When the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals meet again on Sunday, two players will be meeting their former team again as well.
The list of roster connections between New England and Cincinnati is no longer a lengthy one. There are no Corey Dillons, Chad Johnsons, BenJarvus Green-Ellises or Brandon Tates to account for when scrolling down the 53-man rosters these days.
But there is one ex-Patriot and one ex-Bengal.
And leading up to the 1 p.m. kickoff at Gillette Stadium, let’s revisit them.
Brandon LaFell, wide receiver – After spending the first four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, LaFell notched a career-high 74 receptions for 953 yards and seven touchdowns with the Patriots in 2014. The starting “X” proved integral down the stretch, reeling in 13 passes for 119 yards in postseason play, with touchdowns arriving in both the divisional round against the Baltimore Ravens and Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. But LaFell’s second season in New England would go differently. It began on the physically unable to perform list and ended with him catching 37 passes for 515 yards and no touchdowns over 11 appearances. The 29-year-old wideout was later released by the Patriots in March and signed a one-year pact with the Bengals in the weeks that followed. LaFell has since caught 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns over five games and three starts with Cincinnati.
James Develin, fullback – A circuitous football journey it has been for Develin. The former Brown University defensive end went undrafted in 2010 before making stops with the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz and Florida Tuskers. And with four games remaining in the 2010 NFL season, the Bengals signed him to the practice squad. Develin would remain a member of Cincinnati’s practice squad for the rest of 2010 season and for all of the 2011 season, but was waived during final roster cuts in 2012. The Patriots took a flier on the 6-foot-3, 253-pound fullback the next day, adding him to the practice squad. And since then, Develin has appeared in 43 total games for the club. He’s handled eight carries for 15 yards, caught 12 passes for 112 yards, and notched two touchdowns while serving as a lead blocker, special-teamer and reserve tight end.