The Patriots placed cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Joejuan Williams on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday, weakening their secondary depth.
Williams will miss the 2022 season because of a shoulder injury, a league source confirmed, while Butler’s injury is undisclosed. Both participated in Thursday’s preseason opener but were absent from practice on Monday and Tuesday.
The Patriots also waived backup punter Jake Julien, bringing their roster to 84, one below the 85-man limit. The team must cut down to 80 players by 4 p.m. on Aug. 23.
Williams, a second-round pick in 2019, was on the bubble to make the 53-man roster, but because he is on IR, he will pocket his $1.4 million base salary. Williams will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
In 12 games last season, Williams recorded 21 tackles and five pass deflections. He was on the field for 23.5 percent of the defense’s snaps and struggled to earn a regular role, often getting beaten in coverage.
Butler was not a lock to make the final roster, either. The 32-year-old veteran occasionally struggled to keep up in coverage during camp, as he attempted to return to form following a season-long retirement. Butler is under contract through the 2023 season, having signed a two-year, $5 million deal in March.
At cornerback, the Patriots have Jalen Mills, Terrance Mitchell, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Shaun Wade, Jack Jones, and Justin Bethel. Myles Bryant, who also plays safety, has been taking snaps at cornerback, too.
The Patriots have been tinkering with their personnel and combinations, opening up opportunities for several young players in Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, and Wade. Six cornerbacks (including Bethel, who primarily plays special teams) made the initial 53-man roster last season.
Offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn is day-to-day, coach Bill Belichick said. He did not participate in practice on Tuesday . . . There were a couple of reconnections on the field after practice. Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson and Panthers wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who were teammates for three seasons in Cleveland, chatted for a bit. So did Panthers coach Matt Rhule and Patriots rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. Rhule coached Thornton his freshman and sophomore seasons at Baylor before leaving for the NFL . . . Ex-Patriots safety Patrick Chung made another appearance during camp. He spent some time working with the safeties. Former Patriots safety Nate Ebner was also in attendance.