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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Analysis on Zusevics, Salas moves

By Mike Reiss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Patriots activated rookie offensive tackle Markus Zusevics from the non-football injury list and waived receiver Greg Salas from the 53-man roster on Thursday, and here are a few thoughts on the moves:

1. Where Zusevics fits on the roster. A rookie free agent out of Iowa who tore his pectoral muscle at the combine, Zusevics has been on the non-football injury list all season. Today marked the deadline for the team to make a decision on his status -- either injured reserve or the active roster. This is obviously an indication that the Patriots want him to be part of the mix this season, possibly as early as tonight. One thing to watch for tonight is the potential usage of offensive tackle Nate Solder in a tight-end type of role. If the Patriots do that, which would be an attempt to generate more in the running game without their best blocking tight end in Rob Gronkowski, it would require more depth at offensive tackle. That's where Zusevics could potentially come into play behind the other tackles, Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon (update: Zusevics is inactive tonight, so if that is part of the plan, he won't be in the mix).

2. Salas decision leaves team short at receiver ... but likely tied to Hernandez. By waiving receiver Greg Salas, the Patriots leave themselves thin depth-wise at receiver with Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman on the depth chart (with special teams captain Matthew Slater an emergency No. 4 option). It's unlikely the team would make that type of move if it didn't expect to have tight end Aaron Hernandez -- who is essentially another receiver -- available tonight.

3. Salas' future with the Patriots. This is the second time that Salas has been waived off the 53-man roster, leading to questions about his long-term future with the team. Salas, who was promoted to the 53-man roster last week and played six snaps in Sunday's win over the Colts, still has practice squad eligibility. One would think he'll be back on the practice squad assuming another team doesn't claim him. As for the odds of another team claiming him, it's hard to predict. It didn't happen earlier in the season, but when the Patriots previously upped Salas' practice squad salary to a level as if he were on the active roster, one assumed there was interest from another team at that time. Other teams have until 4 p.m. ET Friday to claim Salas. It might be tough for them at this time of the week to fit him on to the roster, given game-planning considerations.