Second-year wide receiver Josh Boyce, who entered training camp favored to be New England’s No. 1 kick returner, and long snapper Danny Aiken were among those cut Saturday as the Patriots got to the 53-player limit.
Boyce, who played in nine games, caught nine passes and returned nine kicks before getting hurt last season. He caught four passes for 57 yards and had one carry for 13 more in two preseason games. But his downfall may well have come when he was targeted nine times and had just two catches in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the New York Giants.
Aiken, entering his fourth NFL season, was the only long snapper listed on New England’s depth chart for Thursday night’s game. That left defensive end Rob Ninkovich as the only long snapper on the roster. The Patriots released undrafted free agent Tyler Ott last week.
Aiken handled all long snapping duties for the Patriots in 48 regular-season and seven postseason games during his three-year stay after being released by the Buffalo Bills as a rookie in 2011.
The team was reportedly hoping to get Boyce and some others through waivers so they could keep them on the practice squad. Players released Friday and Saturday and not claimed will clear waivers on noon Sunday and could then brought back.
The Patriots, who open next Sunday, cut 19 players overall, while placing rookie linebacker James Morris on injured reserve.
Cornerback Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brian Tyms will both serve four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s drug policy and won’t count against the 53-player roster limit until Week 5.
Also released were: running backs Jonas Gray and Roy Finch, wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, tight end Steve Maneri, fullback Taylor McCuller, offensive linemen Braxton Cave, Chris Martin and Jon Halapio, defensive linemen Eathyn Manumaleuna, Jake Bequette, L.T. Tuipolut and Jerel Worthy, linebackers Steve Beauhanais and Ja’Gared Davis and defensive backs Daxton Swanson, Shamiel Gary and Kanorris Davis.
Both Halapio and Gallon were drafted in May.

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