Patriots start cutting early

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Teams have until Saturday afternoon to reduce their rosters to 53 players, but the New England Patriots are getting a head start.

They have released four, leaving them with 71. None of the cuts was surprising:

  • NT Steve Fifita

  • CB Jeff Shoate

  • TE Jonathan Stupar

  • OL Jimmy Martin

Fifita and Shoate had the most NFL experience. Fifita played 13 games, starting one, for the Miami Dolphins last year. Shoate played for the Denver Broncos in 2004 and 2007. He was on injured reserve in '05 and was on Denver's practice squad in '06.

Martin's previous NFL experience was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. He was out of the NFL for much of last year.

Stupar was an undrafted rookie from Virginia.