With Saturday the deadline for NFL teams to cut their rosters to 53 players, the New England Patriots announced that outside linebacker Eric Ghiaciuc and defensive lineman Damione Lewis have been released, and tight ends Rob Myers and Carson Butler will be waived.
The Lewis move is not necessarily a big surprise, as he was working with the second unit and projected as the fifth, sixth or seventh lineman on the depth chart. And Ghiaciuc, who had the most NFL experience in the battle for the backup center/guard job, was a longshot to make the 53-man roster, as were Myers and Butler.
Myers spent time on the Patriots' practice squad last season and could potentially return again if he clears waivers.
The competition for the top center/guard backup spot is one of the final roster decisions the Patriots figured to be evaluating Thursday night against the Giants. Second-year players Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger and rookie Ted Larsen are the top candidates. Ohrnberger, the 2009 fourth-round draft choice, started at right guard in the preseason finale.
Yet Lewis's standing on the team seemed to be helped by the club's injury situation along the defensive line. The Patriots dressed just five linemen for their preseason finale (including Lewis), with backups Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and Brandon Deaderick all held out of action.
Sometimes teams release veterans before the final cutdown day and then bring them back after the first game so they don't have to guarantee a full season's salary, so perhaps the Patriots have that in mind with Lewis, who was making the transition to the 3-4 defense for the first time in his 10-year career.
On Aug. 13, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Lewis: "He's a smart guy and a very experienced guy and he's been able to make the adjustments to our system and our style of play. ... I think Damione is working hard, coming along, making good progress in our system, I think he's in pretty good condition. I think he can help us this year."
On Friday, after cuts were announced, Belichick said of Lewis: "I like a lot of things about Damione. He's a solid guy, a good player, he worked hard, he's smart. In the end, we felt like we had some other people ahead of him. That's what it came down to."
A look at the projected defensive line depth chart:
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter.