The New England Patriots have cut ties with undrafted free agent cornerback Stephon Morris, who was re-signed earlier this week on Monday after returning to full health from a hamstring injury that initially led to the Penn State product being released on the first day of August. Morris looked like an intriguing practice squad prospect, as he showed good run defense and ball skills while at Penn State. But Morris suffered another hamstring injury, as reported by MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill today, and Underhill tweeted that the Patriots decided to release Morris.
The other four releases that the Patriots made among UDFAs have been announced by the team. Rutgers product Scott Vallone was also re-signed by the Patriots on Monday after being cut earlier in the month, but he has also been promptly released. Vallone’s cut is also not surprising, because he just doesn’t have enough tools to cut the mustard in this league. He isn’t fast, athletic, or powerful, but he was very productive at Rutgers due to a high motor and football IQ.
Gilbert Pena was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots on Wednesday after being cut by the Green Bay Packers, but the former Ole Miss defensive tackle was still a longshot to make the practice squad. I bet he was simply signed as a Week 4 preseason “what if” body to replace Cory Grissom on the 75-man, as Grissom was redshirted on the injured reserve.
The Patriots don’t really use a fullback in their offense, but that might chance this year with James Develin potentially set to take a spot on the roster. With Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard cut, Michael Hoomanawanui is set to be the No. 2 TE behind Zach Sudfeld until Rob Gronkowski is healthy, and that means he will have less time at H-Back, thus clearing the way for a fullback in Develin. Former Tennessee Volunteers standout Ben Bartholomew was the second fullback on the roster, and I’m surprised he made it this far before being cut.
Matt Stankiewitch is another Penn State product to receive the ax, and the UDFA center has a chance at making the practice squad. While he didn’t impress me this month, Stankiewitch has promise, as he has terrific intangibles and is a very good run blocker. Stankiewitch was known for his work ethic and “mean streak” with the Nittany Lions, and he makes up for some major flaws in pass protection with some major strengths as a run blocker.