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Patriots try to recreate the magic of 2016, re-sign linebacker Ramon Humber

New England adds to its linebacker group.

New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots made three roster moves yesterday: the team activated second-round rookie cornerback Duke Dawson to their active 53-man roster, while also releasing running back Kenjon Barner and linebacker/special teamer Nicholas Grigsby. The transactions left the team with one open spot and it looks like it has been filled: according to the Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy, the Patriots have signed linebacker Ramon Humber.

Humber, the mysterious player wearing number 50 during today’s practice, basically fills the spot vacated by Grigsby’s release yesterday. While listed as a linebacker, the 31-year old is primarily a special teams player: before his release by the Buffalo Bills last week, he played 71.0% of the team’s kicking game snaps but only 10.2% on defense. Humber was third on New England’s rivals with four special teams tackles.

Now, the veteran will bring his talents to the Patriots — a team with which he is familiar not just because he spent the last two years of his career in Buffalo: after spending the first seven years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, Humber was signed by New England as an unrestricted free agent in March 2016. However, he failed to crack the team’s rotation at linebacker and special teams and was let go again during roster cutdowns.

Humber went on to join the Bills and established himself as a core special teamer and valuable rotational linebacker. In fact, the former undrafted free agent produced the finest statistical season of his career with Buffalo: in 2017, the undersized defender — he is measured at 5’11, 230 lbs — started nine games as an off-the-ball linebacker and registered 83 tackles, a sack and four quarterback hits.

Now, he will try to build on this success in New England. It appears to be likely, though, that his impact will come in the kicking game. After all, his signing sends a clear message that the Patriots are unhappy with their current special teams situation: adding Humber just a week after fellow special teams veteran Albert McClellan was brought on board should help fix some of the team’s issues.