Poteat replaces Law on roster
The Patriots signed unemployed cornerback Hank Poteat on Monday, making him eligible for Sunday's divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts and their record-setting quarterback. Poteat takes the roster spot that opened when Ty Law was placed on injured reserve last week.
"It's certainly not an ideal situation at this point, but we'll do what we think is best," coach Bill Belichick said before the signing was announced.
Law had not played since Oct. 31. Tyrone Poole, the other starting cornerback from the beginning of the season, has been out since the fourth week of the season and Asante Samuel has also spent time on the injury report, as have safeties Eugene Wilson and Randall Gay.
The injuries have forced the Patriots to use wide receiver Troy Brown as a fifth defensive back. Poteat, who also returns punts, could give Brown a rest or he could serve as backup.
"We've got guys in there that aren't our usual starters," lineman Willie McGinest said. "But we've got confidence in the guys that are there."
Belichick did not comment on the signing during his media availability on Monday. But Colts coach Tony Dungy wasn't about to assume that the Patriots will be pushovers.
"They're in disarray enough to have won 14 games," he said. "They've got good players and are a well-coached unit, and we are awfully hot."
Manning earned his second consecutive NFL MVP award on Monday after a season in which he threw 49 touchdown passes and had a quarterback rating of 121.1 -- both NFL records. With his quick release and ability to read defenses, he can pick apart the most accomplished secondary.
But the Patriots have stymied him.
Last year in the AFC Championship Game, New England picked Manning off four times -- three of them by Law -- to beat the Colts 24-14. In this season's opener, McGinest sacked Manning for 12 yards on the final drive and Mike Vanderjagt missed a 48-yard field goal to tie it.
"We know they've been waiting on this game since last year," McGinest said. "So here it is. It's going to be a great show."
In all, the Colts are 2-9 against the Patriots under Manning and winless in their last five tries. But Belichick shot down a suggestion that he had figured out how to stop Manning.
"Nobody wants to see me on the field against Peyton Manning," Belichick snickered. "Not me, not any fan. Nobody except the Colts."
Terms of Poteat's deal were not disclosed.
Poteat, who has been out of the NFL since being released by Carolina in the preseason, played in 41 games over three NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has played in two playoff games, starting for the Steelers in the 2002 wild-card game.
Poteat was waived by the Steelers before the 2003 season and signed with Tampa Bay. He played one game for the Buccaneers before he was released on Nov. 12, 2003. He signed with the Panthers before the 2004 season and played in two preseason games before he was released.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press