After beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, the New England Patriots enter week 8 with a 6-1 record, leading both the AFC East as well as the conference. Now, the team has to travel to Buffalo to take on the 4-3 Bills, who have won the first game between the two teams in week 4.
Buffalo has one of the most prolific offenses in the league and a major reason for that is the team’s running game. Therefore, seeing the Patriots waive one their lightest interior defensive linemen today, does not come as a surprise (via Rand Getlin):
I'm told the the #Patriots cut DL Anthony Johnson today.
The 23-year old Johnson, who has started his professional career with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins after going undrafted in 2014, originally joined the Patriots in May. He had a solid first summer in Foxboro and thus was able to make the team’s initial 53-man roster.
However, Johnson was waived after week 3 – coincidentally leading up to the game against the Bills – and signed to the practice squad. Prior to New England’s week 6 game against the Bengals, Johnson was promoted to the active roster, off which he was waived again today.
New England now has four defensive tackles on its roster and all four – Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Vincent Valentine, Woodrow Hamilton – are bigger bodies better suited to defend the run than the leaner Johnson, who is more of an inside rusher. Valentine and Hamilton both missed Sunday’s game against the Steelers, so seeing Johnson waived might be a good sign for their health.
According to Doug Kyed, waiving the third-year veteran defensive tackle was not the only move made by the Patriots today:
The Patriots cut DT Anthony Johnson from the 53-man roster and S Vinnie Sunseri from the practice squad.
Sunseri, who played the first two years of his career with the New Orleans Saints, joined the Patriots in late July. He was waived during roster cut-downs but signed to the practice squad on September 6. He spent the first seven weeks of the season there.
Due to the two transactions, New England now has an open spot on both its active roster – maybe for an activation off the physically unable to perform-list – and its practice squad.