Closing the book on Wheatley

CLEVELAND -- Cornerback Terrence Wheatley's time with the Patriots came to an end Saturday when he was waived by the team. While it's possible he could return on the practice squad if he clears waivers, at this time, Wheatley's two-plus years in New England can probably best be summed up this way: Promise overshadowed by injuries.

Wheatley was a late second-round draft choice in 2008, the 62nd overall pick. He appeared to be coming on during his rookie season, drawing his first career start at Indianapolis on Nov. 2.

Watching Wheatley cover Marvin Harrison in the early stages of that game -- when he was credited with two passes defended -- it certainly looked like the future was bright.

But Wheatley injured his wrist later in the game, which ended his season. All the momentum he had built to that point was abruptly halted.

It turned out to be a preview of what was to come.

Wheatley then injured his knee in the 2009 preseason, although he tried to play through it. Then this preseason, when he appeared to be rising in the eyes of the coaching staff, he hurt his foot in the team's third preseason game.

Wheatley, who entered the NFL with injury questions with his wrist, seemed to realize what this year was all about for him.

"I think the one thing that has my attention now is that the time is now," Wheatley said in an ESPNBoston.com story earlier this year. "You can't have any more 'free' years. If you got it, you got it. If you don't, you don't. That lights a fire under me, and you have to go out there and show what you can do."

But as had been the case in his first two years, just getting out there proved to be a big challenge for the likeable Wheatley.

Once he did, the Patriots had a well-established top of the cornerback depth chart with Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite.