The New England Patriots added defensive line help to the 53-man roster Saturday evening, announcing the promotion of second-year pro Joe Vellano from the practice squad and the release of tight end Steve Maneri.
The moves come on the eve of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Vellano, 26, originally signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 2013, where he was an All-American and a two-time team captain. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle proceeded to play in all 16 regular-season games for New England as a rookie, starting eight while recording 54 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Vellano played in the first five games of 2014, notching six tackles and one sack before his release on Oct. 7. He was re-signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers on Oct. 8.
Maneri, 26, was in his third stint with New England, after joining the team as an undrafted rookie tackle in 2010, then later rejoining as a tight end in training camp this summer and again on Dec. 17. The former 6-foot-7, 300-pound Temple Owl has also been a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching six passes for 52 yards over 24 regular-season games. Maneri last played in the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
New England’s active roster now includes five defensive tackles and three tight ends.