The New England Patriots lost a key player Tuesday when Leigh Bodden(notes), their best cornerback, was placed on injured reserve. Bodden, who led the Patriots with five interceptions last season, went on the season-ending list with a shoulder injury. He had been bothered by a knee injury earlier in training camp and returned to practice last week. He played in Thursday night’s 36-35 exhibition loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Patriots did not say which shoulder Bodden injured. New England got down to the 75-player roster limit by Tuesday’s deadline by releasing defensive back Terrence Johnson(notes) and placing three other players on injured reserve: safety Josh Barrett(notes) (shoulder), defensive back Brett Lockett (chest) and defensive lineman Darryl Richard(notes) (foot). The loss of Bodden could thrust first-round draft pick Devin McCourty(notes) from Rutgers into a starting spot. The other first stringer is expected to be Darius Butler(notes), a second-round pick last year from Connecticut. Bodden joined the Patriots before the 2009 season as a free agent after five seasons with the Browns and one with the Lions. He started 14 of the 15 games he played, returned one interception for a 53-yard touchdown, forced a fumble and recovered another. He tied a team record with three interceptions in a 31-14 win over the Jets on Nov. 22. The Patriots picked up Barrett on waivers from the Broncos on Aug. 6. Lockett played primarily on special teams after being claimed off waivers from Cleveland last Sept. 7. Richard, a seventh-round draft choice last year, spent the season on the practice squad. Johnson is a rookie free agent from California (Pa.) University.