The Patriots made three roster moves on Thursday, placing defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on season-ending injured reserve, signing receiver Austin Collie, and waiving tight end Zach Sudfeld.
The release of Sudfeld was something of a surprise, given the low number of healthy players New England has at the position.
The undrafted rookie out of Nevada, who quickly became a training camp darling for his size, penchant for one-handed grabs, and potential to become a much-needed red-zone target, had not carried that momentum into the regular season, possibly because of a hamstring injury suffered in the opener against Buffalo.
Sudfeld had seen the number of snaps he was getting go down over the last two weeks, and he was on the field for just eight snaps against Atlanta. He also muffed an onside kick late in the game that led to an Atlanta recovery.
It is not known if the release of Sudfeld is related to the health of Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has not yet played this season as he recovers from multiple arm surgeries as well as a back procedure. Earlier this week, Gronkowski reiterated that he was taking things day by day and was making progress. He said that he feels better than he has in months because he has been doing more on the field and in the weight room.
If he clears waivers, Sudfeld is a candidate to return to the Patriots as a member of the practice squad. Teams have until 4 p.m. Friday to put in a claim.