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Monday, August 29, 2011
Katula, Wilhite among cuts; two signed

By Mike Rodak

The Patriots announced a number of roster moves on Monday afternoon, including the release of long snapper Matt Katula and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite. The Patriots' roster stands at 81, and will need to be cut-down to 80 players by Tuesday's deadline.

Katula was the Patriots' only pure long snapper on the roster, and head coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon that the team plans on signing another long snapper to replace Katula. The other option would have been to use linebacker Rob Ninkovich in the role, one that he filled early in training camp when Katula wasn't ready to practice.

Wilhite was a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2008 and has started 13 games over the past three seasons for the team. The move may be a positive sign for third-year cornerback Darius Butler, who appears to be on the roster bubble. Otherwise, the Patriots' top four options at cornerback look to be Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, and 2011 second-round draft choice Ras-I Dowling.

Also notable on Monday was the release of 2011 seventh-round draft choice Malcolm Williams. The former TCU special teams maven is battling a leg injury and has been out of practice for the past several weeks. It is possible that the team waived Williams with the "injured" designation, which would allow him to return to the team's injured reserve list.

Tight end Garrett Mills, who was signed last week, was also released on Monday. He has practice squad eligibility, so his return to the team in that capacity cannot be ruled out.

Undrafted free agents defensive end Clay Nurse, kicker Chris Koepplin, and guard Mark Wetterer, as well as defensive lineman Kade Weston (2010 seventh-round pick) and wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins were also released on Monday. The team also confirmed the previously reported release of safety James Sanders. The Patriots have yet to release running back Eric Kettani, as was reported earlier Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Patriots signed two players on Monday. Safety Ross Ventrone, who spent most of last season on the practice squad before being released on Aug. 9, was re-signed, and will add depth to the safety position.

Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, a seventh-round pick of the Jaguars in 2009, was also signed. The Rutgers product played in 13 games over the past two seasons for Jacksonville, recording eight receptions. He was waived by the Jaguars last week.