FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots made a few business moves Tuesday before officially starting their league-mandated vacation, releasing receiver Austin Collie and signing receiver LaQuan Williams and running back Cierre Wood.
Williams took Collie’s spot on the 53-player active roster, while Wood was signed to the practice squad.
Collie joined the Patriots Oct. 3 and played in four games, catching three passes for 34 yards. He’ll likely be remembered for two receptions — one coming on fourth and 4 — during the game-winning drive against the Saints Oct. 13.
He injured his knee during this past Sunday’s win over the Steelers and did not return to the game. Collie was one of three players not spotted during the portion of Tuesday’s full-pads practice that was made accessible to the media. Practice was held before the announcement of his release.
Williams and Wood were both on the practice field, and already had been given lockers with name plates by the time practice ended. Both declined interview requests.
An undrafted free agent out of Maryland, Williams signed with the Ravens in 2011 and played in Baltimore two seasons. In 23 games over the 2011-12 seasons, Williams caught four passes for 46 yards, and also played on special teams.
Wood, also undrafted, led Notre Dame in rushing two of his three seasons, and signed with the Texans May 10. He played in three games for Houston (three carries, 9 yards) before being released Oct. 21. The Texans said Wood and two teammates violated team rules, and waived all three players.
Gregory breaks thumb
Safety Steve Gregory also wasn’t spotted at practice. That’s because he suffered a broken thumb in Sunday’s game, according to a league source. Despite other reports saying that Gregory would miss at least a few weeks, the source told the Globe that Gregory might be able to play in the next game, Nov. 18 at Carolina, wearing a cast.
Gregory, who was injured in the third quarter against the Steelers, has been credited with 58 tackles on the season, and is still looking for his first interception.
Running back Brandon Bolden, who has been on the team’s recent injury/practice reports with a knee injury, was the third player not spotted at practice.
Ninkovich: good signs
Also on the practice field was defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who left Sunday’s game with a foot injury and, like Collie, did not return. But Ninkovich was seen on the sideline, testing his foot in front of team doctor Thomas Gill and then wearing his helmet, signs that he likely could have played again if needed.
His appearance at Tuesday’s practice was another sign that the injury wasn’t serious.
“In the game there, just had a little something there, don’t want to get into the exact specifics of it, but it’s something that with having a week off, I’m sure I’ll feel better next week,” Ninkovich said.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, who has missed the last three games with a hip injury, also practiced, and was seen in the locker room afterward for one of the few times since his injury. Talib playfully declined comment.
After Tuesday’s full-pads workout, the players now will have six days off. When they return next week, they’ll start preparing for their Nov. 18 game at Carolina on “Monday Night Football.”
Coach Bill Belichick said his bye-week message will be the same, to rookies as well as veterans.
“I’d say it’s pretty much the same message for everybody,” he said. “We’ve played nine games, but seven wins, that’s not enough in this league, you’re not going to win anything with seven wins, you’re going to need more than that.
“We’ve got a lot of football left, there’s a lot of things we can improve in. That goes for every position and each player, and we’ll try to focus on that, what things can we do better the last seven games that we didn’t do quite as well in the first nine games.
“If we do that collectively, if each player can make a little bit of incremental improvement, across the board with all 53 players, as well as the coaching staff, that will raise our game up. That’s the objective.”
That said, Belichick welcomes the break, since his 7-2 team has operated pretty much full-go since reporting for camp in late July.
“We’ve played 13 games, plus weeks of training camp, plus we’ve practiced against Philadelphia and Tampa,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of consecutive football, and there’s nobody in that locker room that’s been playing that’s 100 percent, I’m sure of that.
“It gives us a chance to clear our mind a little bit. We don’t have a game plan, a scouting report, a whole bunch of adjustments to deal with this week. It’s like studying for a test every week; it’s hard mentally, it’s hard physically.”
The weekend health scares suffered by Denver’s John Fox and Houston’s Gary Kubiak won’t prompt Belichick to change anything he does as a head coach in the NFL.
“No, I don’t feel that way,” said Belichick, when asked if the Fox/Kubiak medical episodes had him stepping back and making sure he’s taking care of himself.
“I’m comfortable with the schedule that I’m on and what I’m doing. I feel about like I feel normally at this time of the season, which is good, but it’s not like you feel on July 28, when you start [training camp].
“I feel good, and I plan on making it through the rest of the year. I don’t really plan on doing anything differently.”
Fox had a heart procedure done in Charlotte, N.C., after becoming lightheaded over the weekend while playing golf, since the Broncos had a bye last week. At halftime of Sunday night’s game, Kubiak was taken off the field on a stretcher and hospitalized after collapsing while walking off the field.Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.