- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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The final wave of transactions is in the book, and the Patriots have pared their roster down to 53 players. Passing along thoughts on a number of the players that the team waived or released. For analysis on some of the Patriots' initial moves of the day, check out Mike Reiss' post from earlier.
Before the analysis, a note on the differentiation between being waived and released: A player who has accrued less than four seasons of NFL experience is subject to waivers, meaning that the remaining 31 teams can place a claim on him between now and 12 p.m. ET Saturday (example: quarterback Brian Hoyer). Those who have four or more seasons of experience are classified as vested veterans, and are released (example: Deion Branch). They are available to sign with any team immediately.
Safety Sergio Brown: Brown came on late in camp as a special-teams player, but remains a defensive liability. Without practice squad eligibility, he would likely return only in an injury situation. The Patriots have young safety depth in Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner, who both bring more to the table on defense.
Linebacker Niko Koutouvides: A surprise in the sense that Koutouvides has been such a staple on the special-teams units this preseason, although the team may feel it can replace him with Tracy White, who has dealt with an injury for much of camp but returned to practice Friday. Koutouvides could be a player to return later in the season in an injury situation.
Fullback Eric Kettani: The Patriots, for now, look ready to proceed without a fullback as the regular season commences. Kettani received extensive reps late in camp with Spencer Larsen on the sidelines, but was unable to generate enough stock to stick around on the active roster. He isn't a hammerhead lead blocker from the backfield, and the Patriots may feel that a player like Brandon Bolden provides hybrid ability as a running back/fullback. Kettani would be a strong practice squad candidate.
Defensive lineman Marcus Harrison: Harrison flashed a quick first step during camp, but didn't do enough to outshine a number of young linemen on the Patriots' defense, including Marcus Forston, the undrafted rookie out of Miami.
Defensive back Malcolm Williams: Williams had moments during practice in which he looked the part of a very good special-teams player, and with practice squad eligibility, he seems like a good program guy to keep around going forward. Ultimately, a lack of defensive contributions might have kept him off the active roster.
Offensive tackle Matt Kopa: Kopa was a possibility early in camp to win a job as a reserve tackle, but struggled before suffering an ankle injury. With Marcus Cannon slated as the third tackle, Kopa's presence was not needed. Another practice squad eligible player.
Offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren: As noted by Mike Reiss shortly after the draft, Warren was guaranteed the most money of the Patriots' undrafted rookies signed at the time (late signee Jeff Demps' guarantee of $200,000 far surpassed that of Warren's). He seemed to struggle to transition to the NFL level, playing with a wide base in 1-on-1's and struggling to anchor in his pass sets.
Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert: The only Patriots' draft pick to be waived, Ebert is probably a player who needs a full year of development before making an NFL impact. He missed extensive time early in camp, and was limited in terms of reps due to the Patriots' veteran receiving corps. Could see Ebert coming back as a practice squad member.
Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian: A year ago, Tarpinian was a feel-good undrafted rookie story who made the Patriots' active roster. He missed a chunk of the season due to injury, and had an at-times nondescript camp this year, unable to separate himself from fellow 'backer Mike Rivera. He could end up on another roster, and also has practice squad eligibility.
Tight end Alex Silvestro: Silvestro's effort as a converted tight end deserves a tip of the cap, as he's come quite a ways in just one offseason. Ultimately, he needs to refine his game at the position, and the Patriots are well-equipped with their current mix of tight ends. He too has practice squad eligibility, although with four tight ends on the active roster, the team may feel that the position isn't one where they currently need to develop a player.
Offensive lineman Darrion Weems: Weems was signed early in camp, and made an impression as a big-bodied tackle with a little bit of nasty. He could be the type of player that venerable offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia can mold into an NFL-ready lineman, and would be able to do so if he is signed to the practice squad.
Linebacker Aaron Lavarias: A member of the practice squad in 2011, Lavarias wasn't able to generate much noise this preseason. Not sure if he showed enough to be considered a practice squad candidate again in 2012.
Defensive back Derrick Martin: Perhaps best described as a "camp body," as the veteran Martin wasn't able to see many snaps after being signed during the middle of camp.
Offensive lineman Derek Dennis: A player picked up on the waiver wires at the beginning of camp, Dennis made some progress, but had major struggles in the preseason finale. Not a surprise to see him go.
Offensive lineman Dustin Waldron: Another undrafted offensive linemen picked up while the Patriots dealt with early-camp injuries to veterans Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer, Waldron didn't appear to have the athleticism and foot quickness to hack it as an NFL lineman. Has practice squad eligibility.
Wide receiver Kerry Taylor: Given that the team made a move to claim Taylor on waivers this Monday, it would make sense if the plan is to attempt to sign him to the practice squad. Tough to evaluate much of his game based on this mini sample size.
Wide receiver Jesse Holley: Holley showed up a little bit on special teams, but the team has a number of other players who can bring a similar skill set as coverage players. His lack of offensive value likely hurt his case, too.
Tight end Tyler Urban: He's an undrafted rookie who had a decent camp, so it's no surprise to see Urban go, given the Patriots' logjam at the position. If the team decides to keep a tight end on the practice squad, Alex Silvestro seems like a stronger candidate.
The final wave of transactions is in the book, and the Patriots have pared their roster down to 53 players. Passing along thoughts on a number of the players that the team waived or released.