With the first roster cut at 4:00 PM this afternoon, the Patriots trimmed their roster down to the league mandated 75 player limit. To make the cut, the Patriots released FB/HB Kyle Eckel, cornerback Jason Webster, and rookie interior lineman Ryan Wendell. The team also placed right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan on injured reserve, effectively ending his season. Lastly, the team placed right guard Stephen Neal on the PUP list (the reserve one).
The release of Kyle Eckel wasn’t too surprising. As I’ve said, although unfortunate, his feel good story had to end at some point. With a fully stacked backfield, it was too hard for him to grasp a roster spot. So Belichick gave him an extra few days to be able to sign on with a team, rather than cutting him at final cuts. Jason Webster was the same kind of thing. Fresh off of a return from injury, the team chose to let Webster go rather than releases him during the final trim-downs. Webster’s release increases the chances that rookie Jonathan Wilhite not only makes the team, but sees time on the field. Ryan Wendell was a rookie center/guard who I liked as a rookie free agent pickup, but being a longer shot, didn’t have enough to make the team.
Then two injury moves will be the hardest to bear. Ryan O’Callaghan was the perfect back-up/fringe starter guy we needed for depth at the tackle spot. It’s really unfortunate that he won’t be able to suit up this year. The Stephen Neal move will also hurt. Neal hasn’t practiced all training camp due to a knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl. Still, the Patriots line has looked really shaky without him in the right guard spot. Billy Yates will likely start in Neal’s spot for the time being, but the Patriots really have to hope that they get him back soon.