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Patriots cut Chris Harper following muffed punt

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Chris Harper has been banished from the New England Patriots' roster following Sunday night's costly muffed punt.

Harper was released on Monday, the team announced.

The Patriots were cruising toward their 11th consecutive victory with a 21-7 fourth-quarter lead when Denver recovered Harper's fumble. Four plays later, the Broncos scored a touchdown to restore hope and gain momentum. The Pats went on to suffer their first loss of the season.

Although Tom Brady was careful not to point the finger at Harper during a Monday morning radio appearance, coach Bill Belichick is a noted stickler for ball security.

Harper's release could be a sign that veteran wideout Danny Amendola is a nearing a return from his Week 12 knee injury.

On the other hand, Belichick might simply prefer to sign a punt returner he can trust to hold onto the ball in key situations.

UPDATE: The Patriots signed Harper to their practice squad on Wednesday.

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