The Patriots have claimed running back Thomas Clayton on waivers from the Cleveland Browns.
Clayton, who returns to the Patriots for a third time after two stints with the Browns, takes the open roster spot created when the team placed offensive lineman Stephen Neal on season-ending injured reserve Thursday.
Clayton adds depth at a position where the Patriots have BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. The Patriots inherit his two-year contract, which extends until the end of 2011.
Kevin Faulk, Taylor and Morris all with contracts that expire after this season, so the Patriots might have been thinking to the future by claiming Clayton.
Clayton (5-11, 220) originally signed with New England on June 11 and was released Sept. 4. He was signed to the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad on Sept. 14, then signed to the New England 53-man roster from the Cleveland practice squad on Sept. 30. Clayton was inactive for two games while on the New England active roster, was released by the Patriots on Oct. 23, and claimed on waivers by Cleveland on Oct. 26. He played in two games for the Browns before being released on Dec. 1.