Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon place on IR

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who has been sidelined since injuring his ankle in a game Oct. 29, was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier this year that the team was fortunate to have quality depth at offensive tackle, and now the team will rely on it, with five-year veteran LaAdrian Waddle and fourth-year player Cameron Fleming next on the depth chart. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia had referred to both Waddle and Fleming as starting-caliber players in early November.

Cannon, who was voted Associated Press second-team All-Pro last year, had signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract extension in November of 2016. He injured his ankle in the second quarter of a win over the Chargers on Oct. 29, and has remained in a walking boot since.

Cannon played through an ankle injury in 2016, but now will likely undergo surgery in hopes of starting 2018 with a clean bill of health according to a source.

The Patriots also officially announced the signing of receiver Kenny Britt on Wednesday, in addition to bringing back veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who had been with the team from Nov. 7 to Dec. 3 and appeared in three games.

Jean Francois adds a layer of depth after Alan Branch didn't finish Monday night's loss to the Dolphins with a knee injury.

The club also released linebacker Jonathan Freeny, who had been signed last week, as well as punt returner Bernard Reedy.

The team had to create one roster spot Wednesday as tight end Rob Gronkowski's one-day roster exemption upon return from serving a one-game NFL suspension was expiring.