Power outages from Tropical Storm Irene forced the New England Patriots out of their home stadium for practice on Monday. When they return, safety James Sanders won’t be with them.
The Patriots released the six-year veteran, who was tied for second on the team with three interceptions last season. He was due to make a base salary of $2.8 million in 2011.
“Tough release there with James Sanders,” coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call. “James has been a good guy to have on this team. A hardworking kid. … He’s been a really solid team player for us but we just, part of the move, needed to release people.”
Also Monday, the Patriots signed receiver Tiquan Underwood and safety Ross Ventrone and released 10 other players: receivers Darnell Jenkins and Tyree Barnes, kicker Chris Koepplin, fullback Eric Kettani, long snapper Matt Katula, offensive lineman Mark Wetterer, tight end Garrett Mills, defensive backs Jonathan Wilhite and Malcolm Williams and defensive linemen Clay Nurse and Kade Westo n.
Sanders was a fourth-round draft pick from Fresno State in 2005 who has totaled 300 tackles, eight interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. He has also played in 10 postseason games, starting seven.
“Not a lot of negatives with James,” Belichick said. “But we have to select the players that we feel like are best for our team.”
NFL teams need to get down to 80-man rosters by Tuesday and to 53 by the season opener. The Patriots have one preseason game left, at home on Thursday against the New York Giants, before the opener on Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins.
Belichick said he had no updates on Wes Welker (neck) and Dan Connolly (ankle), who left Saturday’s game against Detroit, which the Lions won 34-10.
Irene killed five in New England even as it was downgraded from a hurricane that devastated North Carolina and points south. As a tropical storm, it snarled transportation while causing widespread flooding and power outages that left more than 400,000 people without power in Massachusetts alone on Monday.
The Patriots were among them.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the power at Gillette Stadium went out Sunday morning and had not been fully restored early Monday evening. So, the team had a walkthrough and meetings off-site.
James would not divulge the location.
“We’re working outside of the stadium today, but we should be back there in a little while and it sounds like we’ll be back to normal,” Belichick said. “We weathered the storm and we should get back hopefully into a normal flow of things here tomorrow.”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo said his family in Virginia lost power, and he did at home in New England as well. Deion Branch said his family had trouble getting back from the game in Detroit.
“That may be the only scare that I really had,” he said in a conference call with reporters.
Defensive lineman Andre Carter said there was no disruption caused by moving Monday’s workout.
“There was no other difference after the game or after a day of rest. We came in, we worked out, (we) did stretching, got the muscle fatigue out,” he said. “We took advantage of (another site) the best way we could. … We’re very fortunate to have some resources to pretty much do what we need to do and be professional for this team.”
Underwood appeared in 13 games over two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before he was released on Saturday. Last year, he caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards.
Ventrone spent most of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad. He went to camp with the team this year but was released on Aug. 10.