Patriots: Cutdown analysis

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Biggest surprise: The Patriots knew they would have trouble replacing left CB Asante Samuel, the Pro Bowler who landed with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots signed three veteran free agents and drafted two more.

Ten-year pro Fernando Bryant took the lead early and kept it, playing with the first unit throughout camp and the preseason, until now. The Patriots released him Saturday, turning the job over to second-round pick Terrence Wheatley, who's already listed as the starter on the team's unofficial depth chart.

Other surprise cuts were LB Victor Hobson, who started 48 games the past three seasons for the New York Jets, and reserve QB Matt Gutierrez, who outplayed Matt Cassel in the preseason.

No-brainers: Former Mississippi star RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an undrafted rookie, was a long shot to begin with. But he certainly was doomed by the signing of LaMont Jordan. DL Santonio Thomas has hung around on the practice squad, but the Patriots are too loaded up front for him to make the final roster.

What's next: With the Patriots, one never can be too sure. They're shrewd and aren't afraid to make a stunning move, as Bryant and Hobson can attest. Cassel has looked so ineffective in the preseason, they could be on the lookout for a veteran in case disaster strikes and Tom Brady goes down for an extended period.