WR Hawkins, OL McDonald let go

The Patriots terminated the contract of veteran receiver Lavelle Hawkins on Wednesday. The team also waived versatile center/guard Nick McDonald and rookie free-agent receiver Perez Ashford.

Of the moves, McDonald is the most significant, and it's a mild surprise. The four-year veteran has been with the team since 2011 and his versatility to play all positions on the line had value to the club. He appeared in 16 games over the last two seasons, with three starts -- two coming in 2011 when the club was ravaged by injuries at center, and one last season at right guard.

McDonald had opened training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list, and had not practiced. The Patriots waived him with a "failed phyiscal" designation.

Hawkins, who signed with the Patriots on May 9 after spending the first five years of his career with the Titans, faced an uphill climb for a roster spot. With rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins emerging in the spring and the early days of training camp, most of Hawkins' repetitions came with the backups. This move further reflects the Patriots' commitment to youth at receiver (draft picks Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, and Thompkins, are getting plenty of top reps), although it doesn't mean they wouldn't consider signing another veteran.

Ashford, signed last week, was a longshot.

The moves were initially reported by Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet.