Patriots Have Trouble Finding A TE

Foxborough, Mass -- The New England Patriots signed unrestricted free agent TE Matt Kranchick to their practice squad, released TE O.J. Santiago, and placed TE Rod Trafford on the practice squad/injured reserve December 15, 2006.

Kranchick The Next TE To Sign On and learned earlier Friday the New England Patriots signed free agent TE Matt Kranchick to their practice squad and he practiced with the team on Friday.

Kranchick, a free agent who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-05) and the New York Giants (2005), was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2006 preseason. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Penn State product joins the Patriots after a pair of TEs signed earlier were unable to participate in the team's practice.

Because the team has injury issues at tight end, Kranchick could be signed off of the practice squad to the active roster before Saturday's 4:00 pm est deadline.

Santiago Waived

Santiago, who signed with the Patriots Wednesday December 13, 2006, drew approval from the team's head coach Bill Belichick on Thursday.

"I think O.J. has a good background," Belichick. Coach [Pete] Mangurian had him in Atlanta his rookie year. He's a big kid, can block, has good hands, pretty athletic guy." Belichick was careful not to anoint Santiago a starter, or even a secure roster spot at that time. "We're late in the season and he hasn't played since training camp, so we'll see where he is. He may be able to give us some depth at that position."

Thursday, the team released the injury report with Santiago reportedly suffering a foot ailment that had him listed as questionable.

On Friday, the team opted to release the seven-year veteran. Although no specific reason is given for a player's release, Patriots Insider has learned from a league source that Santiago wasn't quite ready to go.

Santiago was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft (70th overall). He has 81 receptions for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns in his career.

Trafford To IR

Trafford was added to the Patriots' practice squad on Tuesday December 12, 2006. Patriots Insider has learned that according to a league source, Trafford was injured during his first practice. The injury was enough to force the team to bring in more tight ends for as backups.

Originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie January 17, 2003, The 6-foot-3, 250-pound South Carolina product was released at the end of training camp that season. He spent time with Buffalo Bills (2003) and Philadelphia Eagles (2004).

Another TE Had A Workout

Yet another tight end was in for a visit during the week, the same day O.J. Santiago worked out. Terry Jones, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound free agent, worked out for the Patriots on Thursday. Jones, was a fifth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2002 NFL Draft. In four seasons with Baltimore (2002-04) and San Francisco (2005), he managed 59 receptions for 493 yards and five touchdowns.

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