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Patriots release tight ends Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Daniel Fells was one of two tight ends reportedly cut by the Patriots on Friday. (USATSI)
Daniel Fells was one of two tight ends reportedly cut by the Patriots on Friday. (USATSI)

Maybe the Patriots don't plan to use any tight ends at all this season.

Despite the fact that Rob Gronkowski's health is still up in the air, New England has cut two of the five tight ends on their roster. Both Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells have been released, the team announced on Friday.

Fells release is probably the more surprising one, considering the sixth-year tight end signed a three-year, $5.25 million deal in March 2012.

With Fells and Ballard gone, that leaves New England with Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld and Michael Hoomanawanui as the only tight ends on the roster.

Sudfeld may be the reason coach Bill Belichick felt comfortable dumping Fells and Ballard. The rookie tight end, who signed as an undrafted free agent in May, finished the preseason with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, leading Ben Volin of the Boston Globe to calling him 'Baby Gronk.'

As for Gronkowski, Patriots beat writer Tom Curran believes that the end of September is still the target date for his return.

The Patriots also released eight other players on Friday, including defensive end Marcus Benard, wide receiver Johnathan Haggerty, linebacker Mike Rivera, offensive lineman Luke Patterson, fullback Ben Bartholomew, defensive lineman Gilbert Peña, offensive lineman Matt Stankiewitch and defensive lineman Scott Vallone.

The Patriots still have 65 players -- including Tim Tebow -- on a roster that has to be trimmed down to 53 players by 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.


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