Patriots lose Bodden for the season
FOXBOROUGH — The five moves to whittle the Patriots roster to 75 players were expected yesterday. The only surprise was one of the names on the list.
Cornerback Leigh Bodden was placed on season-ending injured reserve, less than two weeks shy of starting his eighth NFL season. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Bodden suffered a rotator cuff injury, leaving the Patriots without their most experienced corner. It is a critical loss for a defensive unit that also lost end Ty Warren for the season last month with a hip injury.
After one season, the Patriots were sold on Bodden’s ability. His five interceptions in 2009 tied safety Brandon Meriweather for the team lead, and he had 17 passes defended. The Patriots rewarded Bodden in March by signing him to a four-year contract worth a maximum of $22 million, with $10 million guaranteed.
Without Bodden, the Patriots are left with a young batch of corners. First-round draft pick Devin McCourty and second-year player Darius Butler lead the group, which also includes Jonathan Wilhite, who is in his third season, Kyle Arrington, in his second, and Terrence Wheatley, in his third.
The secondary gets even younger without the 28-year-old Bodden.
“Anytime you have a player go down, that’s family,’’ said nose tackle Vince Wilfork. “You take a little blow, a blow for your team, because that was one guy that could help you.
“Now we gotta regroup, restructure, and try to get guys to fill in. But it’s business; you’re gonna have changes all the time, you’re gonna have injuries. You have to point to where you have to be ready to roll the ball. You gotta be ready to move forward, because the ball don’t stop because of injuries.’’
When Bodden arrived in New England last season, he said he was looking for an opportunity to prove he could contribute. After being an undrafted free agent out of Duquesne in 2003, he played five seasons in Cleveland and one year in Detroit before signing a one-year contract with the Patriots.
Bodden talked about being more of a leader with the cornerbacks this season. But his time in training camp was limited by a knee injury. That kept him out of several practices and the first two preseason games, but he returned last week against the St. Louis Rams, playing a significant amount of time.
However, Bodden did not practice with the team this week.
As the news of Bodden’s injury reached the online world, he responded via Twitter to well wishes from fans, teammates, and even Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco. Bodden wrote that he was “overwhelmed with love’’ from supporters and will bounce back.
In the past couple of weeks, Bodden and Ochocinco have traded jabs via Twitter about the season opener between the Patriots and the Bengals Sept. 12. But yesterday, Ochocinco substituted well wishes, writing that Bodden is “in my prayers on a speedy recovery.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com; Shalise Manza-Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report.