FOXBORO - When roster shifts are made after the "final" 53-man roster is set, there's often sort of an understanding that released players, if not picked up by other teams, should stay in the area and be prepared for a call to return.
Often, they don't know when that call will come. But sometimes, it's as if they knew all along that their separation from the team was only temporary.
For instance, cornerback Marquice Cole was released after the Patriots' 53-man roster was set, but he returned on Monday.
"I did what I always do, watch TV," he said. "I talked to the coach, and knew everything that was going on, so it wasn't that big a deal."
Patriots' coach Bill Belichick hasn't revealed why he will cut a player and return him to the roster before the ink on the release papers is dry, but it often has something to do with depth levels on the roster and whether Belichick feels he's entering a game with enough warm bodies at specific position groups.
"It's just the business part of football," Cole said. "It's tough, but it's part of the game and it goes with the territory. You know what you're getting into when you sign up for football."
The effort to finalize the roster continued Thursday as tight end Matt Mulligan and center Braxston Cave were released to bring the number of players on the team to 51, two below the limit. Mulligan, a product of the University of Maine, had been on the roster for only a day.
According to published reports, the Patriots were preparing to return fullback James Develin to the roster.