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James Develin placed on IR as Patriots reduce roster to 75

Patriots fullback James Develin was injured in Friday’s exhibition game against the Panthers.BOB LEVERONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOXBOROUGH — Fullback James Develin was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday after fracturing his right tibia in last Friday’s exhibition win over the Carolina Panthers.

The Patriots had been hoping to lose a trusted blocking back and one of their more respected locker room figures for only 6-8 weeks. Develin had played in every game over the last two seasons.

Develin suffered the injury after a 10-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter.

While the team returned to Foxborough on Saturday, Develin remained in Charlotte, N.C., for surgery. He returned on Monday.

“I saw him yesterday and he’s doing well,” said coach Bill Belichick. “I think he’s got a good attitude. I was happy to see him. It’s good to see him back here.”


Cornerback Darryl Roberts, a rookie seventh-round pick out of Marshall, also was placed on IR, a wrist injury ending his season.

In addition, linebacker Dane Fletcher and defensive lineman Chris Jones were placed on the reserve/PUP list, meaning they will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

The Patriots also released guard Chris Barker and rookie linebacker D.J. Lynch, and claimed wide receiver DaVaris Daniels off waivers from the Vikings. The Patriots had to reduce the roster to 75 on Tuesday, and must be down to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Saints’ Saunders acquired

The Patriots traded a conditional draft pick to the Saints for return man Jalen Saunders.

Saunders, who also plays wide receiver, is entering his second season. The Jets drafted him out of Oklahoma in the fourth round last year. He saw limited action with the Jets and they released him after six games.

Saunders spent time on the practice squads of the Cardinals and Seahawks before the Saints signed him to their 53-man roster in November. He returned nine punts for 99 yards and three kickoffs for 139 yards, including one 99-yard effort, in five games for New Orleans.


The Patriots held joint practices with the Saints before their second exhibition game, allowing the staff to get a closer look at Saunders.

He joins a receiving corps that has been depleted by injuries this preseason.

Lindley is ready

Since being signed as the No. 3 quarterback Aug. 10, Ryan Lindley has been waiting patiently to take his first snap in an exhibition game.

With the Patriots uncertain about the status of Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo has gotten the lion’s share of the snaps. If an opportunity comes on Thursday night against the Giants, Lindley said he’ll be prepared.

“I’ve been champing at the bit,” he said. “You’ve got to wait for your number to be called. It’s not Little League. Everybody’s not going to get in there for a couple innings. So I’ll be ready when my number’s called and ready to roll Thursday.”

Lindley has had to learn on the fly the last three weeks, working closely with the coaching staff to get an understanding of the offense and taking as many mental reps as possible. Spending his three-year career as primarily a backup with the Cardinals and Chargers, Lindley has learned the importance of staying focused even when he’s not in the game.

“You’ve got to do that,” he said. “As the backup, especially during the season, it’s the biggest issue. You want to make sure you’re taking the reps others are getting. So the coaching staff has helped me out a lot with that, just making sure I’m staying plugged in.”


It’s a snap

The experience Josh Kline had at center before this preseason came sparingly — some center-quarterback exchanges in practice, some test runs in past preseasons, but no regular-season games.

But injuries have meant more reps at an unfamiliar spot for the third-year guard.

“You’ve always got to be ready because you never know who could go down or what could possibly happen,” he said.

Kline has played 19 games, including five starts, the last two seasons — all at guard. But he was open to playing center, knowing the team might need him in a pinch.

“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do,” he said. “If they ask me to play tight end, I’ll play tight end. It’s their decision, so you’ve just got to go with it.”

Kline is aware of the extra responsibility of not just pushing bodies around, but making sure the ball gets into the quarterback’s hands cleanly.

“You’ve got to get the ball to the quarterback,” he said. “That’s the first thing Bill says is ball security, and I’m the main culprit, me and the quarterback. So we’ve just got to get that down.”

Flowers blossoming

Four plays after rudely introducing himself to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by tossing the former Super Bowl MVP to the turf in the preseason opener against Green Bay, a shoulder injury was a momentum stopper for rookie defensive end Trey Flowers. But even though the injury kept him from returning to that game, and forced him to sit out the next game against the Saints, the 6-foot-2-inch, 265-pounder figured it wasn’t serious. “I knew it was minor,” Flowers said. “I just took precautions, and just getting an ear from the doctor and they cleared it, so I was able to play.” Flowers returned last week against the Panthers and finished with four tackles, picking up where he left off. “I’m a football player, you always want to play,” Flowers said. “So for me to go down, I knew I was going to be able to come back, and I just wanted to come back even better.” When the Patriots drafted Flowers in the fourth round out of Arkansas, Belichick knew he had a player with a nose for the ball. Flowers said he’s been working to absorb the defense as quickly as possible. “I’m just trying to get myself ready, working on myself,” he said. “I’m still diving into the playbook, working on my technique. I’m not worried about the depth chart thing.” . . . Tackle Nate Solder became the 13th player to receive the Ron Burton Community Service Award.


(Boston Globe) James Develin’s teammates say he will be missed. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)
(Boston Globe) James Develin's teammates say he will be missed. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)

Julian Benbow can be reached at