Patriots release four ahead of roster cut-down

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One day after finishing a winless preseason, the New England Patriots released four players they had signed as free agents.

They cut nose tackle Steve Fifita, offensive lineman Jimmy Martin, cornerback Jeff Shoate and tight end Jonathan Stupar, reducing their roster to 71 players Friday. They must get down to the regular season limit of 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.

New England ended its first winless exhibition schedule since 1990 by losing to the New York Giants 19-14 Thursday night and falling to 0-4. The Patriots were 18-0 last season before losing the Super Bowl to the Giants.

"We have watched (Thursday's) game and moved on pretty quickly to meetings on roster decisions, personnel options and things like that," coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call Friday. "It was a short night, but we just have to push through it here and figure out our final roster decisions."

The Patriots open the regular season Sept. 7 at home against Kansas City. Quarterback Tom Brady has said he will play even though he sat out all four preseason games. He said a right foot injury was improving.

Fifita played all 13 of his NFL games with Miami last season after signing with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent in April 2006. He signed with the Patriots on May 5 this year.

Martin signed with the Patriots on Feb. 5 after being drafted by San Diego in the seventh round in 2006. He hasn't played in an NFL game.

Shoate, a fifth-round draft choice by Denver in 2004, signed with the Patriots on Aug. 9. He played 14 games for the Broncos.

Stupar signed as a rookie free agent on May 2 after four years at Virginia.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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