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Patriots cut Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, James Anderson

NFL teams have to reduce their rosters to 75 men by Tuesday. Most of the roster cuts this week are names not known by the average fan, but the Patriots made a few surprising exceptions.

Defensive end Will Smith, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, and linebacker James Anderson were all let go by New England on Monday, the team announced.

The three players have started 295 games combined in their careers, but they appear to be nearing the end of the line.

Smith is no longer the pass rusher he once was, and he reportedly wasn't a great fit as a 3-4 defensive end in practice. Kelly, 34, was coming off a torn ACL. The Patriots are very thin at defensive tackle, but clearly they didn't believe Kelly was going to help them. Anderson was competing at a deep position and wasn't helping on special teams, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

However, it's possible Smith and Kelly will return to New England following Week 1 when their contracts aren't guaranteed, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. 

This is a Patriots defense that looks better on paper than it has since 2007. It definitely got younger on Monday.

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