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Patriot Maven Notebook - Langi to IR, Patriots Host Three for Workouts and More

A pair of Patriots revert to the Practice Squad, as one member is released in advance of the team’s commencing preparations for their Week Eight matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The New England Patriots improved to 3-4 on the 2021 NFL season with a 54-13 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. However, the Pats continue to make news as they start to make preparations for their Week Eight matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. From another Patriot moved to injured reserve to practice squad reversions, here are the latest Pats news and notes, courtesy of the Patriot Maven Notebook

Langi Placed on Injured Reserve

Just two days removed from leaving Sunday’s Week Seven contest with an apparent knee injury, Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi has officially been placed on injured reserve. On Monday, it had been reported that Langi has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL, making his timetable for return uncertain. As a result, Langi will now miss a minimum of three games.

The veteran linebacker had started Sunday at Gillette Stadium against the New York Jets in place of team captain Dont’a Hightower, who was inactive due to elbow and ankle injuries. Through seven appearances for the Patriots thus far, Langi has recorded two tackles, playing 16 snaps on defense as a rotational depth option, playing off-the-ball, on the edge and in run-stoppage duty. He has also been a valuable contributor on special teams, primarily on the kicking units, for which he has taken 98 snaps.

2021 marked Langi’s second tour of duty with the Patriots. He entered the NFL as part of New England’s 2017 undrafted class, Langi spent the past three seasons with the New York Jets. In May, he signed a one-year deal to return to the Pats. Following a roster shuffle in September, he re-signed with the Patriots, joining their 53-man roster.

In addition to Hightower, Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Brandon King, Jamie Collins and Jahlani Tavai remain New England’s active options at the position.

Patriots Host Three for Workouts

Former Carolina Panthers running back Rodney Smith was among three free agents hosted by the Patriots for workouts on Tuesday. New England also worked out offensive tackle Casey Tucker and guard Willie Wright.

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Smith entered the league by signing with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. He had an impressive collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, compiling 5,444 all-purpose yards (a University record) and 29 rushing touchdowns. During his time with the Golden Gophers, he was highly praised for his ball security, as well as his contributions in pass protection. Smith spent the 2020 season between Carolina’s practice squad and active roster. Through nine NFL games, Smith has collected 156 rushing yards and one touchdown. He is also quite capable as a receiver, totaling 107 receiving yards on 14 catches. The 25-year-old was released by Carolina earlier this month.

Tucker signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie free agent in 2019. The 26-year old tackle has also spent time with the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts, along with returns to the Eagles organization in both 2020 and 2021.

Wright joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019 from the University of Tulsa. The 25-year-old has spent time with both the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons. He served as a standard elevation from Atlanta’s practice squad in December, before being waived in August 2021.

Elijah Benton Released from Practice Squad

The Patriots also announced the release of defensive back Elijah Benton from their practice squad. The 25-year-old originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 2020 out of Liberty. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder spent the majority of the 2020 season on the Cleveland practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster and played on special teams against the Pittsburgh Steelers in October 2020. Benton went to training camp with Cleveland this past summer and was released on Aug. 31. He was signed by New England to the practice squad on October 6.

Ferentz, Ekuale Revert to Practice Squad

As expected, both offensive lineman James Ferentz and defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale both reverted to the Patriots practice squad, after serving as standard elevations for Sunday’s matchup with the New York Jets.

Ferentz has seen regular season action for the Patriots on three occasions this season, serving as a COVID replacement in Week Five (vs. Houston Texans) and as a standard elevation in Week Six (vs. Dallas Cowboys) and Week Seven (vs. New York Jets.) During that span, he has made two starts, taking 118 snaps at left guard and 16 snaps at right guard. Per NFL regulations, Ferentz would require a promotion to the team’s 53-man roster to be eligible to play in any additional games this season.

Ekuale recorded his second career sack against New York on Sunday, bringing down backup quarterback Mike White for a loss of eight yards. He saw a total of 17 snaps on defense. Ekuale has one additional standard elevation remaining in 2021.