Pats release WR Kenny Britt, who had been sidelined by hamstring

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots released veteran wide receiver Kenny Britt on Wednesday, shedding another layer at arguably the club's greatest position of need.

The decision wasn't a major surprise, as the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Britt had not taken part in a full practice in training camp after injuring a hamstring in June's mandatory minicamp.

But with Julian Edelman set to serve a four-game NFL suspension to open the season, and the Patriots having already released receivers Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell earlier in camp, Britt was still projected to be in the mix for a roster spot.

After Edelman, the Patriots have Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett atop the depth chart, with Cordarrelle Patterson expected to land a spot as a kickoff returner who could potentially contribute at receiver as well.

The team also signed veteran Eric Decker to a one-year deal on Aug. 3, although he has struggled at times with dropped passes since joining the Patriots. Riley McCarron, Devin Lucien, Braxton Berrios, Paul Turner and special-teams captain Matthew Slater round out the depth chart.

Britt, who has played with the Titans (2009-13), Rams (2014-16) and Browns (2017), initially signed with the Patriots in December. He had appeared in the final three regular-season games as a reserve, with two catches for 23 yards. Britt was a healthy scratch for all three playoff games.

In the offseason, the Patriots picked up the option on Britt's contract for 2018, and he had appeared to make some positive strides in building a rapport with quarterback Tom Brady. That manifested itself in June's mandatory minicamp, when Brady shouted words of encouragement to Britt after they connected on a long pass play.

But Britt injured the hamstring shortly thereafter, and he said earlier this week that he had a lot of ground to make up. The gap turned out to be insurmountable.

Prior to news of Britt's release becoming public, Edelman had expressed optimism in regard to the receiver corps.

"We've got a lot of guys making a lot of plays, a lot of guys working hard, and a lot of guys improving. Honestly, that's all you can ask for," Edelman said. "We've got a group in there that's very capable -- a lot of explosion, a lot of quickness, a lot of experience. I'm not a talent evaluator, not a coach, not a GM; you'd have to ask those guys about that. But I'm excited for their opportunity, and I'm definitely confident in them."