Patriots continue to shape roster

Most figured the New England Patriots' roster was anything but set even after the team trimmed to 53 players Saturday to meet the NFL's cutdown deadline. And, sure enough, Sunday turned out to be nearly as chaotic as the previous day as Bill Belichick showed he still is tweaking his personnel.

The Patriots announced the signing of five-time Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters to add depth on the interior line, jettisoning a backup offensive lineman in the process; made a switch at long-snapper; and started the process of cobbling together their practice squad.

Waters' arrival came at the expense of backup tackle Steve Maneri. The team also bid farewell to long-snapper James Dearth, who lasted less than a week in Foxborough, after claiming former Buffalo snapper Danny Aiken off waivers.

The Patriots didn't officially announce practice squad additions, but a league source told ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss that safety Ross Ventrone, defensive end Markell Carter, defensive end Alex Silvestro and linebacker Aaron Lavarias were expected to re-sign with the team after clearing waivers.

The names that didn't sneak through waivers, however, might be the most noteworthy. A pair of young tight ends got swooped up by division rivals, leaving the Patriots, who emerged from Saturday's cutdowns with just two tight ends, exposed as the regular season nears.

Rookie free agent Will Yeatman was set to re-sign with the Patriots' practice squad before being swooped up by the Miami Dolphins, whom the Patriots play on opening night on Sept. 12. Fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith was claimed by the Buffalo Bills.

Yeatman and Smith combined for six catches and 32 yards receiving during exhibition play, but the Patriots seemed high on both players. The team seemingly rolled the dice at Saturday's cutdowns, and ended up with just second-year tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski at the position. If they had designs of stashing Yeatman and Smith on the practice squad, their plan was foiled by foes they'll see twice this season.

The Patriots likely were in the market for a tight end anyhow, given their penchant for three tight end sets. Veteran Alge Crumpler served that role last season, adding veteran leadership, and could be brought back.

Crumpler caught only six passes last season and was utilized mainly as a run-blocker. The Patriots could experiment with using first-round draft pick Nate Solder -- pegged as the team's third tackle behind starters Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer -- in a Crumpler-like role. Solder spent part of his collegiate career at Colorado as a tight end.

Solder, who worked at right tackle in Thursday's exhibition finale against the New York Giants, has said numerous times he'll do whatever he can to help the team, and first-round picks don't often stand idle on the sideline.

Numerous Patriots who were waived on Saturday were swooped up by other teams, including safety Brandon Meriweather, who inked a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears. Among the other notables, receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate signed with the Cincinnati Bengals; offensive lineman Thomas Austin joined the Houston Texas and defensive lineman Landon Cohen landed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Chris Forsberg covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.