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Patriots Roundup: Roster Changes and Pro Bowl Selections

Tom Brady, one of four Patriots selected for the Pro Bowl, has a few new teammates on the practice field going into New England's Week 17 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

With just one game left in the regular season, it’s been a busy week for the New England Patriots. Here’s a roundup of some of the news out of Foxborough as Bill Belichick and company try to clinch a first round bye in the playoffs, including injury updates, roster changes, Pro Bowl selections, and highlight reel-worthy practice squad signees (yeah, you heard me!):

  • Patriots cut WR Austin Collie (again): Collie was released for the second time this season by the Patriots. With Aaron Dobson getting back on the field last week and Kenbrell Thompkins due to join him soon, he became expendable after providing some much-needed depth at the wide receiver position. If you can call 6 catches, 11 targets, and all of 63 receiving yards “depth.”
  • Vereen, McCourty both likely out this week: The 41-7 shellacking of the Ravens in Baltimore was a refreshing reminder that this Patriots team is, you know, capable of playing well. But it came at a steep cost when running back Shane Verren exited with a groin injury and safety Devin McCourty went down with a crushing blow that left him pretty visibly concussed — he tried to get up and staggered as if he’d tried to down six shots of peppermint schnapps (it is the holidays, after all) in as many seconds. Vereen could play after practicing on a limited basis this past week, but I’d doubt it with an eye towards keeping him healthy for the playoffs and with three other RBs on the roster (however fumble prone). McCourty, though listed as “questionable,” is all but out since he DNP’d every practice this week, and concussions are terrifying. Also…
  • Patriots sign S Davis, DB Green off practice squad: I know, I know, who cares? Both were originally signed as rookie free agents (Troy and Illinois, respectively, not exactly NFL feeder programs). Both have been up and down during the season for spot appearances running around on special teams. Both aren’t going to do much more than that come Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Both were on the practice squad for a reason. But adding secondary depth to the 53-man roster is a pretty clear sign that the Patriots are mindful of McCourty’s status, protecting themselves for when he almost certainly doesn’t play against the Bills and in the event he isn’t ready to go during the playoffs. Extra reps on the practice field and at game speed (even on special teams) can’t hurt for potential fill-ins, no matter how far down the depth chart they are.
  • Tom Brady headlines four Patriots selected to Pro Bowl: Brady may be having a crappy year by his standards, but it’s still good enough to get him to the Pro Bowl for the fifth straight time and ninth in his career. He is joined by cornerback Aqib Talib, special team captain and gunner extraordinaire Matthew Slater, and guard Logan Mankins. Makes me kind of sad to think where the Patriots might have been had previous Pro Bowlers Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Rob Gronkowski not gone down with injuries (I’m leaving Aaron Hernandez off that list, and not because he was named as an alternate in 2011 for the NFL’s most worthless game). Sorry, I’ll put the world’s tiniest violin back in its case now.
  • Patriots sign Sam McGuffie to practice squad: Does this have any impact on the Patriots this season (or any subsequent one, for that matter)? Of course not! He’s another rookie free agent the Patriots scooped up for kicks and giggles, probably because he’s played running back and slot receiver (lord knows Bill Belichick can’t get enough pass-catching RBs!) and because he came out of Rice University. No, I only mention this because it gives me a chance to post McGuffie’s Moment of YouTube Fame, when he hurdled over a defender and seemingly walking across his back before waltzing into the end zone. Sure, it was in high school, but who cares??? He jumped over someone at full speed in a full contact sport! And did I mention that was good for his seventh touchdown that night? Enjoy:

 

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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