The Patriots formally began to pare down their roster on Friday when they cut 10 players, a day ahead of the deadline for trimming rosters to 53.
Tight ends Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells were the most notable names on the list.
Also cut were defensive lineman Marcus Benard, receiver Johnathan Haggerty, linebacker Mike Rivera, offensive lineman Luke Patterson and Matt Stankiewitch, fullback Ben Bartholomew, and defensive linemen Gilbert Pena and Scott Vallone.
Ballard, who sat out last season with a knee injury, appeared in three preseason games and did not have a reception.
Fells had two receptions for 14 yards in the Patriots’ final preseason game Thursday against the Giants, his only catches in three preseason games.
The moves with Ballard and Fells could indicate that the Patriots may not place star tight end Rob Gronkowski on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, which would keep him out for at least six weeks. Gronkowski is recovering from offseason back surgery.
Coach Bill Belichick said Friday was “the first of several big days coming up for our coaching staff and personnel department and how it affects the team.” The deadline to bring the roster down to 53 players is Saturday evening at 6 p.m.
Belichick said he has to balance the needs of competing positions as he and his staff decide on cuts.
“I think anytime you go light at a position, whatever that position is, and there’s one or two every year that fall into that category, you have to know where the depth is going to be,” Belichick said. “It’s not good planning or really good insurance for your team to go light at a position and then have no idea where your depth is going to be.
“You have to have an idea for where you’re light, where that depth is going to be, whether it’s carrying guys on practice squad, signing free agents, the PUP list, whatever the circumstances are. But I don’t think there’s any way to not have that somewhere on your team; realistically that’s very hard to do.”
Contributing: Shalise Manza Young and Ben Volin