Patriots place DT Vince Wilfork on IR, sign WR Austin Collie
FOXBOROUGH (AP) — The New England Patriots have signed four-year veteran Austin Collie to add experience to their young wide receiver corps.
They also placed defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on injured reserve on Thursday and released tight end Zach Sudfeld, a rookie free agent who struggled after an impressive preseason.
Collie spent his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before signing as a free agent with San Francisco last Aug. 2. He had been a free agent since the 49ers released him Aug. 31.
He was a productive wide receiver out of the slot in his first three seasons but had at least three concussions since November 2010 and left another game with concussion-like symptoms. He missed three games early last season because of a concussion and played in just one game before rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee.
Collie started 16 of his 42 games with the Colts, making 173 catches for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns. He had at least 54 receptions in each of his first three seasons but just one last year.
The Patriots have played with three rookies among their four wide receivers in the last three games after veteran Danny Amendola aggravated a groin injury in the opener. He hasn’t played since and participated on a limited basis in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
The rookies seemed to make progress in last Sunday night’s 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons in which rookie Kenbrell Thompkins caught two touchdown passes from Tom Brady. But Julian Edelman, tied for the NFL lead with 34 catches, is the Patriots’ only healthy veteran wide receiver.
Wilfork, a five-time Pro Bowl player, tore his right Achilles tendon in the first quarter against Atlanta. He’s missed just six games in his 10-year career.
The release of Sudfeld might indicate that Rob Gronkowski will play for the first time this season on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s been recovering from forearm and back surgeries. Patriots tight ends have just four catches this season: three by Michael Hoomanawanui, one by Matthew Mulligan and none by Sudfeld.
Gronkowski was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but has said his condition has been improving.