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Patriots Make Roster and Practice Squad Moves, Beef up the Defensive Line with Khyri Thornton

The Patriots have added more players to the roster.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have been busy this bye week. In addition to trading for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, the Patriots have made five other roster moves to help bolster the back end.

The Patriots have moved defensive lineman Khyri Thornton from the practice squad to the active roster. Thornton is a former college teammate of linebacker Jamie Collins and will add some penetrating beef in the middle of the defense. The 6'3, 305 lbs lineman can play anywhere on the defensive line and, in combination with the addition of Hicks, it appears that New England is going to be extremely heavy against the Cowboys in week 5.

Thornton took the roster spot of linebacker Dekoda Watson, who was released with the addition of linebacker Jon Bostic. It's also possible that Thornton received a roster offer from another team and the Patriots elevated him to keep him in house.

The Patriots have also released offensive lineman Chris Barker, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and defensive lineman Joe Vellano from the practice squad. These three moves, and the promotion to Thornton, left four openings on the practice squad. They are filled as follows:

Defensive back Brandon Dixon was a 2014 6th round pick by the Jets who has spent time with the Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Colts.

Offensive lineman Sean Hickey is an undrafted free agent rookie who worked with the Saints this offseason. Hickey is 6'6 and is traditionally a tackle. It's curious why the Patriots now have three offensive tackles on the practice squad, as Hickey joins Cameron Fleming and Blaine Clausell.

Wide receiver Austin Hill is a 6'2, 215 lbs receiver with an impossible-for-his-size 6.72 three cone time. Hill spent time with the Raiders and the Jets this offseason as an undrafted free agent. He was a star player as a sophomore in 2012, but lost his 2013 year with a knee injury, and wasn't fully recovered during his 2014 senior year. He's a worthy stash.

Edge defender Eric Martin is a former Patriots practice squad player who will add depth at linebacker and at pass rusher during practice sessions.