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With the 80-player NFL roster deadline looming on Tuesday, the Patriots released 11 players Monday, including six-year veteran James Sanders and Jonathan Wilhite amongst others.
Sanders, 27, started 50 games for the Patriots after being drafted in the fourth round in the 2005 NFL Draft. With the Patriots, Sanders recorded 301 total tackles, with 17 pass-deflections, and eight interceptions. Not known for doing anything particularly great, the product by way of the Pat Hill pipeline, was always solid.
He had his best season in 2007 when the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season. That season, Sanders was fifth on the team with 71 tackles — ahead of Rodney Harrison — but, never got back in the swing of things after New England drafted Oregon’s Pat Chung in 2009.
Another “well-known” name that is now without a team is 27-year-old cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.
Wilhite, who entered the league in 2008 with second round bust Terrance Wheatley, fared better than his counterpart, but struggled to remain consistent for the Patriots. The former Auburn Tiger had just three interceptions in three seasons as a nickelback in New England.
Both Wilhite and Sanders will generate interest for secondary starved teams. They bring an instant winning mentality to any locker room and although neither have much, if any, potential, they are — well — who they are. Sanders can compete to start in this league and Wilhite is a decent fourth corner on any roster.
The Patriots didn’t just deduct players from its roster Monday, they also brought on board wide receiver Tiquan Underwood.
Now, I will admit that when I was covering the 2009 draft I raved about Underwood. His eight receptions in two seasons suggests that I don’t have a clue, but I will attribute that to a bad situation.
Underwood stands at 6’1″ 183 pounds with top-line speed. In Indianapolis, at the Scouting Combine, Underwood was a top performer in the following events: Vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle. But, his draft stock took a hit after his pro-days when NFL teams noticed that Underwood’s hands were very raw and, to be blunt, not that good. Nevertheless, Underwood was drafted in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Just 24-years-old, Underwood failed to leave an impression with the Jaguars and was in-active for the majority of his first two seasons.
He enters a good situation in New England, and could apply pressure to Brandon Tate (the two are very similar) for a roster spot on the final 53-man squad. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s sporting an old school high-top fade on Twitter.
My track record with Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson and Tate doesn’t speak well for Underwood. But, someone is bound to break the curse. Right?
Follow Matthew Marcantonio on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio