PITTSBURGH — The Patriots' defensive backfield took another huge hit Saturday, when the team placed rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling on injured reserve.

Dowling had battled a hip injury throughout the regular season and hadn't played in a game since Week 2. He practiced for the last time Wednesday before sitting out the final two sessions of the week.

The transaction came just a day after the Patriots released cornerback Leigh Bodden, who underperformed and had some type of rift with the coaching staff over playing time. Without Bodden and Dowling, the Patriots are only left with Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams at cornerback.

McCourty and Arrington have proven themselves over the last season-plus, but Molden was a late preseason addition and Adams has been cut twice by the Patriots in the last three weeks. What once looked like a deep position has now dwindled considerably.

Also, running back Kevin Faulk and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick were activated to the 53-man roster from the physically unable to perform list. They will be available to play Sunday against the Steelers if necessary.

Defensive lineman Ron Brace can remain on the PUP list until Nov. 8.