FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ The New England Patriots haves signed first-year wide receiver Tony Gaiter to the active roster.

To make room, the team said Thursday, it was releasing veteran cornerback Steve Lofton.

Gaiter, 24, was activated to the Patriots in November 1997 and made his NFL debut against the Indianapolis Colts. He remained on the active roster, but was reported among the team's inactives prior to each of the final three regular-season games and both playoff games. He was released in August when NFL teams had to reduce their roster to the league limit of 61 players.

Lofton, 29, signed with the Patriots as a veteran free agent in September 1997, but was placed on injured reserve with a pulled left hamstring on Dec. 9.