On Saturday night, the New England Patriots executed a roster move, releasing WR Tiquan Underwood, in a move which could have repercussions for veteran WR Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco has not played a large role for the New England Patriots all season long, recording just 15 receptions, but in a classic Bill Belichick move, the veteran pass catcher could play a role in the Patriots game plan on Sunday night.
The move to release Underwood does come as a bit of a surprise, given the timing, with the team filling his roster spot with DL Alex Silvestro. Silvestro was signed off the Patriots practice squad and has appeared in just one game for the Patriots this season. Underwood does not play special teams for New England and Silvestro does. The move could have been made to add special teams depth as TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle) will likely not play on kick coverage.
However, the timing is curious. Gronkowski has been dealing with his high ankle sprain for two weeks and if the Patriots knew this week that the tight end wouldn’t be available to play special teams, why not call up Silvestro earlier in the week and get him in the mix?
To say that Ochocinco has been limited this post-season would be an understatement. The veteran played just one snap in the Patriots divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos and was inactive for New England’s AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.
According to ESPN, it is likely that Chad Ochocinco will be active for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI as the team’s fifth receiver. New England runs a two-tight end set for nearly 70% of their offensive plays. If Gronkowski will be limited in the number of plays he’ll be available, New England could run more three receiver sets.