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Bernard Reedy, Geneo Grissom promotions fortify Pats' special teams

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The New England Patriots bolstered their special-teams units for Sunday's road game against the Buffalo Bills by promoting returner/receiver Bernard Reedy and defensive end Geneo Grissom from the practice squad, and releasing offensive lineman Jason King and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois to make room.

The Grissom-for-King swap was expected, as Grissom will help fill a core role with Nate Ebner (knee) on injured reserve and linebacker Trevor Reilly (concussion) unlikely to play. The Patriots might have an interest in keeping King aboard on the practice squad, as he had just been signed on Tuesday to help the Patriots get through the week of practice with some of their offensive linemen banged up.

Meanwhile, the Reedy-for-Jean Francois exchange is more of a mild surprise, even as Jean Francois had only played four defensive snaps in last Sunday's game as a depth option behind Lawrence Guy, Malcom Brown and Alan Branch. But with Brown back to full health after missing time with an ankle injury, perhaps the Patriots didn't feel they needed the depth as much as added insurance in the return game.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Reedy was signed to the practice squad Nov. 22 after playing in nine games this season for Tampa Bay. He initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2014 with the Falcons.

Reedy has 14 career punt returns (to go along with seven fair catches) and seven career kickoff returns, and he gives the Patriots an added layer of depth behind Danny Amendola (top punt returner) and Dion Lewis (top kickoff returner), as both of those players have critical roles on offense. All of Reedy's work in the return game came this season with Tampa Bay, and he also had two catches for 21 yards on offense.