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DT Warren is released

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / August 27, 2012
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With injuries hindering him throughout training camp, hurting his chances of making the team, the Patriots released veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren, along with defensive backs Josh Barrett and Ross Ventrone, on Sunday.

The deadline to trim rosters to 75 players is Monday at 4 p.m., and after making those subtractions the Patriots are at 82.

Warren, who was well-respected throughout the locker room in his three years with the organization, missed all of New England’s exhibition games with an undisclosed injury.

For the second straight year, Warren, 34, found himself on the chopping block just before the start of the season. He was cut last season in order to keep his salary from being fully guaranteed. He re-signed in late September and played 11 games.

Teams will have to pare their rosters to 53 by Aug. 31 at 9 p.m., and the stress among the players in the locker room still fighting for spots — and the even ones who aren’t — is evident.

“I think that’s one of the worst parts of this business is those two cutdown dates,” said cornerback Devin McCourty. “The guys have come in and worked hard every day, putting their best foot forward and letting the chips fall where they may.”

As a first-round pick in 2010, it’s a position McCourty’s never had to be in. But his twin brother Jason, the Titans’ sixth-round pick a year earlier, has been through the ringer, going through camp and sweating whether he had done enough to make the roster.

“I remember encouraging him,” McCourty said. “I told him that he did everything he could, worked hard, so whatever happens, he should be happy with the effort he put forth.”

Other possible Patriots cuts include center Dan Koppen, receivers Deion Branch and Donte’ Stallworth, defensive tackle Tim Bulman, defensive back Will Allen, linebacker Tracy White, and guard Donald Thomas.

The uncertainty didn’t weigh as much on Kyle Love when he was an undrafted rookie in two years ago. He said he was just hoping for the best at the time, after putting in the work. Now that he’s established himself on the defensive line, he’s had players come up to him asking what to expect.

“A couple of guys have asked me questions,” Love said. “ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘When do you get a call?’ and stuff like that. And I tell the guys don’t worry about that too much. You can’t worry about that. Work hard every day, give it your best effort, and play hard when it comes down to it.”

Matthew Slater, one of the team’s captains, said the atmosphere was tense, but not out of the ordinary.

“It’s definitely a tough time,” Slater said. “What I learned early in my career is not to think about it and just go out and continue to do my job and try to focus on what I had to do.”

“Obviously, we all know what’s at stake and we all understand this is an unfortunate part of the profession. It’s a numbers game and you have to get down to a certain amount of guys. But the atmosphere is no different than it usually is. We have a sense of urgency at all times.”

Familiar scenario

Losing to the Buccaneers in their third preseason game, was similar to the loss the Patriots took to the Lions in the next-to-last exhibition game last season.

Even though they lost their final warm-up to the Giants the next week, they were able to clean things up and win four of their first five regular-season games.

The biggest issue was the way the Buccaneers were able to hunt down quarterback Tom Brady, sacking him twice and hitting him four times. Coach Bill Belichick was clearly disappointed following the loss.

“Any time you go out and don’t perform how you’d like, and the outcome is not what you would like, there’s going to be things to take away from that,” Slater said. “What we have here is an opportunity to respond to an adverse situation, learn from the mistakes we made, learn from the things we did well and move forward. But we can’t dwell on the past.”

Going into their final preseason game against the Giants Wednesday, there will be things they obviously need to refine.

“Coach Belichick has challenged us, asked us to get better as he does each week,” McCourty said. “Whatever he feels we need to get done and to improve this week, we’ll move forward. We just have to keep pushing to get better.”

Demps fitting right in

The way Jeff Demps broke out in his preseason debut caught the eyes of his teammates. Demps racked up 41 yards on three carries, flashing the speed that was the selling point when the Patriots signed him this month. But Slater said off the field Demps has fit in largely because of his work ethic. “He’s come in here and he’s working to get better each and every day just like everybody around here,” Slater said . . . McCourty joked about the five-year, $43 million extension his brother Jason signed this week. “I’m trying to see how many new toys he can buy me with all that money he has,” Devin said.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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