FOXBOROUGH — When Jordan Matthews pulled up with a hamstring injury while running a deep pattern early in Sunday morning’s practice, the hope was that it was just a minor tweak.
Turns out that’ll be the last route the veteran receiver will run as a Patriot, as a league source confirmed Wednesday that he has been released.
Matthews was signed as a free agent in April and was looking to kick-start his career after an injury-shortened season in Buffalo. Matthews had collected 225 receptions for 2,673 yards during his first three seasons in Philadelphia, most of the coming from the slot.
Matthews was seen as a leading candidate to fill that role in New England — at least for the first four games of season while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. Now it looks as though second-year man Riley McCarron and rookie Braxton Berrios will be the leading candidates to keep Edelman’s seat warm.
The fifth-year veteran earned $300,000 for his short stint in town, getting an $80,000 signing bonus, $130,000 for his offseason workout bonus, and $90,000 of his base salary.
Matthews was among the first players to arrive for practice sessions during OTAs, minicamp, and through the first four practices of training camp. He had made a handful of nice plays and appeared to be building a solid rapport with Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer.
Michel, Cannon exit early
A pair of Patriots were unable to finish Wednesday’s full-padded session, as right tackle Marcus Cannon and rookie running back Sony Michel departed with unknown ailments.
Cannon, who played in just seven games in 2017 because of a lingering ankle issue, left early in the session and was replaced in team drills by LaAdrian Waddle. It was the second time this camp Cannon didn’t finish a practice.
Michel, who has looked sharp this summer, was nicked after taking a handoff and scampering through the defensive line. The first-rounder spent some time on the stationary bike before heading off to the locker room with a staffer.
A gift from Gronk
Rob Gronkowski provided some comic relief on the subject of what he might get as a birthday present for Brady, who turns 41 Friday.
“Yeah, it’s a secret,’’ the tight end said before breaking into laughter. “You really want to know what I got him? I do kind of want to say it, but I just can’t. We would all get in trouble.’’
Gronkowski, who has caught 75 career TD passes from Brady, added, “He just loves the game of football so much, usually on his birthday he just wants a good practice day, lots of touchdowns.’’
Turning semi-serious, Gronkowski said he has hasn’t seen much change in his quarterback in the eight-plus seasons they’ve spent together.
“I’ve seen the same fire in him since I’ve been here,’’ he said. “I would say probably back in the day he was a little more on you if you didn’t get it right, a little bit more in your face.
“I feel like he backed off on that a little more, which is nice. He used to be mean to me and I’m glad he’s not to these young guys anymore.’’
Asked to clarify how Brady was mean to him, Gronkowski shrugged and laughed, “Just was.’’
The running backs room got a little more crowded with the team adding Henry Poggi, an undrafted rookie fullback from Michigan. The Patriots also placed rookie tight end Shane Wimann on injured reserve and he will not count against the 90-man limit . . . Bill Belichick had high praise for second-year defensive linemen Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise Jr., both of whom have had very strong starts to camp. “It’s hard to find a time that they’re not in this building,’’ said the coach. “They work extremely hard on the field, off the field, their training, preparation, conditioning — you name it. They’ve kept that pace since they got here and they’ve certainly sustained it this year. They’ve made a lot of improvement and they both have upside ahead of them.’’ Wise appreciated the words and said there’s a close bond between the second-year defenders. “We came in together,’’ he said. “Derek, Keionta [Davis], Adam [Butler], Harvey [Langi], all those guys. We came in together. We’re real close. We help each other out. When we see small things on film, we’re talking about it. He helps me out, I help him out, and it’s one big pot of love.’’
Shirts with a message
Safeties Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty have been outspoken advocates for juvenile criminal reform, and they used Wednesday’s practice to bring attention to their cause. After practice, each player took off his jersey to reveal a T-shirt underneath sporting the hashtag #SchoolsNotPrisons on the front. The back of the shirt read, “Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails #SchoolsNotPrisons.” Several other players around the league wore the same shirt, including the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, the Saints’ Demario Davis, and the Panthers’ Torrey Smith. They are part of the Players Coalition that has been working with the NFL to address social causes in the wake of the national anthem controversy. “Being a part of it was a no-brainer, to put it on today to help spread some light,” Harmon said. “The school-to-prison pipeline is something that is all throughout this country. And we’re trying to decrease that tremendously, so we can get these young kids, instead of sending to juvenile detention centers and prison, send them to places where they can deal with their problems and understand that they don’t have to be that way and hopefully turn them to a new direction.”
Ben Volin and Rachel G. Bowers of the Globe staff contributed to this report.