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Patriots sign Matt Lengel off Bengals’ practice squad

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The Bengals lost a tight end from their practice squad, which may explain why they’re working out free agent tight ends and fullbacks.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have a vacancy on their practice squad. On Wednesday, the New England Patriots signed Matt Lengel to their 53-man roster, off of Cincinnati’s practice squad.

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of EKU in 2015, Lengel spent last season on the Bengals’ practice squad, a spot he was able to win again this year. Lengel's college career was derailed by season-ending injuries in 2012 and 2013, resulting in only 34 career receptions (16 in 2014) for 367 yards receiving and two touchdowns, both of which came in 2011.

That led to Lengel going undrafted in 2015, but the Bengals quickly signed him in hopes the brute of a man would develop into a blocking tight end. He never got many reps in training camp or the preseason in 2015, which was also the case this year, so it's been hard to tell what exactly he can offer to an NFL team.

It’s possible the Bengals were developing Lengel into more of a fullback/h-back role so he could block from a variety of positions. That kind of versatility is something the Bengals love having, and it’s a trait the Patriots enjoy employing as well.

With Lengel gone, the Bengals are kicking the tires on several free agent tight ends and fullbacks, some having practice squad eligibility remaining. Among them is tight end Justice Cunningham. who worked out with Cincinnati on Wednesday, according to ESPN reporter Adam Caplan.

Cunningham is classified as a first-year player, though he has been in the NFL since 2013 when he was a seventh-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts. He has appeared in three career games with the Colts and then-St. Louis Rams, recording just one catch for four yards.

The former South Carolina Gamecock had a favorable draft write-up coming into the NFL, but has failed to reach his potential thus far.

The Bengals also worked out veteran fullback/h-back Marcel Reece, though he does not have any practice squad eligibility.