Patriots release DE Eric Moore

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a move that registers as a mild surprise after veteran defensive end Andre Carter was placed on season-ending injured reserve, the Patriots announced the release of defensive end Eric Moore Tuesday.

Moore was not at practice Tuesday, which was the first sign that his status with the team might be in jeopardy.

Moore was signed by the Patriots Dec. 10, one day after second-year player Jermaine Cunningham injured his hamstring in practice. Moore played in the team's win at Washington one day later, taking over Cunningham's role on the punt return unit. He didn't play on defense against the Redskins, and logged 11 snaps Sunday in Denver.

The Patriots are in the process of drawing up plans to replace Carter, who played 79 percent of the defensive snaps at the time of his season-ending injury Sunday, and one line of thinking was that Moore could be part of a rotation. But the release of Moore could be good news for practice squad player Markell Carter, the sixth-round pick from Central Arkansas who recently received a boost in practice squad pay from $149,000 to $306,000, which is a sign of how highly the team views him.

Six-year veteran Mark Anderson was the primary replacement for Carter on Sunday, and he figures to be a key part of any plans going forward.