FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots have placed tight end Martellus Bennett and special teamer Nate Ebner on injured reserve.

New England made the moves Monday. For Bennett it comes less than a month after the Patriots picked him up off waivers following his release from the Green Bay Packers. Ebner injured his knee on a fake punt run in the first quarter of the Patriots’ win over Miami on Sunday.

Bennett had six catches for 53 yards in New England’s wins over the Broncos and Raiders, but was inactive for Sunday’s win over the Dolphins with a hamstring and shoulder injury. Ebner has played in 82 regular-season games as a reserve and a core special teams member, and had five tackles on defense to go along with 74 special teams tackles.

Bennett was released by the Packers on Nov. 8 for “failing to disclose a physical condition.” In the days after his release he said in a lengthy post on Instagram that the Packers examined his shoulder when he signed a three-year, $21 million contract as a free agent in March and cleared him to play.

But the 30-year-old says his shoulder got worse during the season and that he asked to have it checked in early October, electing for surgery. He says Green Bay’s team physician pushed him to play through it, causing a rift that ultimately led to him being waived.

He started seven games this season for Green Bay, totaling 24 catches for 233 yards. Last season, Bennett caught 55 passes for 701 yards and had a career-high seven touchdowns on his way to earning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots.


Stephon Gilmore heard the noise. It’d be impossible not to. During his first four games with the Patriots, the cornerback was involved in more broken plays than any cornerback would want to be. That led to plenty of scrutiny for the man the Patriots gave $65 million to this offseason.

Nevertheless, Gilmore pressed forward. Even when a concussion knocked him out for three games, he worked behind the scenes. What everyone is seeing now is all that hard work paying off.

For the fourth straight game, Gilmore looks like the Patriots’ best cornerback. On Sunday, he intercepted Matt Moore and locked down receiver DeVante Parker (one catch for 5 yards).

“Yeah, that comes with the position,” Gilmore said of the naysayers. “Anytime you’re playing corner, playing man-to-man, that one mistake you make everybody’s going to see it. I’m able to take that. I know how to take it and get better and better every game. I come out on top eventually.”

It looks like Gilmore has. In his past four games, he’s helped nullify Michael Crabtree, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Evans and now Parker. His interception, with 16 seconds left in the first half, showed how his off-field study habits are helping him on game day.

“They ran that route in the same formation earlier in the series. They just flipped it,” Gilmore said. “I knew the route was coming, they ran the same route in the first quarter. I beat him to the spot and played off and was able to make a play.”

With the Dolphins closing in on the end zone, the turnover was a big play as it kept Miami off the board and prevented a potential double score with them getting the ball back in the third quarter. After the game, Gilmore said he felt like he was playing the best football of his career right now. His ability to deal with negative attention and improve has his teammates speaking positively about him.

“He’s a fighter, man,” Duron Harmon said. “When he did have his little problems at the beginning of the year, all he did, he didn’t make excuses, he just came to work each and every day and he worked hard at it. He worked at it when he was dealing with his injury. I think it showed because as soon as he came back, we didn’t miss a beat. It just shows the type of person he is, the type of player he is, the type of competitor he is. I’m glad he’s my corner.”


Rex Burkhead spent the bulk of his time in Cincinnati as a special teams player.

Last season, his fourth, he earned more opportunities as a backup running back, but the bulk of his playing time didn’t come until the second half of the season.

What a difference a year makes.

After playing a career-high 238 offensive snaps a year ago, Burkhead entered Sunday with 113 through six games with the Patriots. There’s no question he’ll surpass last year’s mark if he stays healthy. Sunday’s performance against Miami showed how valuable Burkhead is to the Patriots’ offense.

“It’s huge,” Burkhead said of the opportunities he’s received with the Pats.

“Just trying to find whatever role I can to help the team out. Help get wins. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Burkhead scored two touchdowns Sunday to go along with 50 rushing yards (the second best mark of his career) and two receptions.