Yesterday, the Patriots placed RG Stephen Neal on injured reserve (IR) with a shoulder injury. Neal contemplated retirement at the end of last season but decided to return to the Patriots. He started the first 8 games this season but has missed the last 3 with the shoulder injury. Dan Connolly, who had previously filled in for Logan Mankins during his holdout, has been starting in Neal’s place and will likely now be the permanent starter at that position. You really have to tip your hat to Connolly, who did a great job stepping in for a Pro Bowl left guard and will now be switching sides permanently to fill in for a really good right guard. He has to be considered an “unsung hero” of the team.
The Pats also made another roster move to fill Neal’s roster spot.
For the third time, the Patriots have brought back RB Thomas Clayton. Clayton was claimed off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns, who had signed Clayton when he was cut for the second time from the Patriots. It’s certainly been a whirlwind season for Clayton but perhaps now he has a home for the remainder of the season. He will likely just serve as depth at the running back position behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor.