- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Most significant move: Tough to pick just one when the players involved are Rob Gronkowski, Tim Tebow and Adrian Wilson, among others. But in terms of impact, Gronkowski seems like the right choice, as he opens the year on the 53-man active roster and not on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. This tells us that the Patriots believe Gronkowski has a chance to return to the practice field, and maybe even play in games, within the first six weeks of the regular season.
Tebow's tenure comes to an end: Vying for a spot as a No. 3 quarterback, Tim Tebow wasn't expected to have a major impact on the on-field fortunes of the team this year. But his presence on the team, from the time he was signed on June 11, generated as much attention as any player. The Patriots ultimately decided to go with just two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, for the fourth time in the past five years.
Adrian Wilson lands on injured reserve: Wilson was viewed to be on the roster bubble and played deep into Thursday's final preseason game. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound safety had been signed to a three-year deal in the offseason and the hope of many was that he could provide a physical presence similar to what the Patriots had when Rodney Harrison was on the club. But those plans didn't unfold as desired as the Patriots' safety corps looks almost identical to what it was in 2012.
Change at punter: In a competition that captured our attention throughout training camp, rookie Ryan Allen (Louisiana Tech) earned the punter job over incumbent Zoltan Mesko (fourth year). Allen, from our view, had the stronger leg, but Mesko was more consistent when it came to control and directional/situational punting, which is something the Patriots value heavily at the position. Mesko was entering the final year of his contract and due $1.3 million, while Allen has a three-year deal and is set to earn $405,000 this year, which was likely a consideration.
What's next after cutting to 51: In a move that indicates more personnel additions are coming, the Patriots' roster now stands at 51 players. By cutting to 51, the Patriots won't have to make a corresponding roster move when they sign another player, or claim another player on waivers. Defensive tackle is one position where the Patriots are likely seeking help.
Patriots moves: TE Jake Ballard, FB Ben Bartholomew, DE Marcus Benard, DE Jermaine Cunningham, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, TE Daniel Fells, DT Marcus Forston, DE Justin Francis, CB Justin Green, WR Johnathan Haggerty, OL Chris McDonald, P Zoltan Mesko, CB Stephon Morris, OL Luke Patterson, DL Gilbert Pena, LB Mike Rivera, WR Quentin Sims, C Matt Stankiewitch, LB Jeff Tarpinian, QB Tim Tebow, DL Scott Vallone, RB George Winn.