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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
D. Gronkowski out; Underwood in

By Mike Reiss

The Patriots announced the release of tight end Dan Gronkowski today, as well as the signing of receiver Tiquan Underwood.

The team also confirmed the release of defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, and announced that offensive tackle Thomas Welch has been released off the practice squad.

Dan Gronkowski, the brother of Rob Gronkowski, has been utilized as a blocking tight end, a role the Patriots have been using their extra offensive linemen to handle. In Sunday's loss to the Giants, for example, offensive tackle Nate Solder played 23 snaps while Gronkowski dressed but didn't play an offensive snap (he only played on the punt return unit).

The signing of Underwood (6-1, 183) looks specifically geared toward special teams and the kickoff return game, which has been a disappointment. He was with the Jaguars for two seasons and was released Aug. 29, 2011. He hooked on with the Patriots for a few days in the preseason before the club released him Sept. 3.

Last season, Underwood played in 10 games for the Jaguars and caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards, including a career-long of 53 yards in the season-opener against the Broncos.

The release of Welch opens a spot on the practice squad, possibly for safety Ross Ventrone. The Patriots have offensive tackle Matt Kopa on the practice squad, giving them an added layer of depth at the position.