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Where is Alfonzo Dennard?

The Patriots cornerback has been missing for the past couple of weeks: where did he go?

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Where has Alfonzo Dennard gone? It seems as if he's gone the way of Aaron Dobson and is just no longer a part of the game plan.

Dennard started the opening week, but a nagging shoulder injury sidelined him through week five where he reclaimed a starting role. He played through the week seven Jets game, but is now not a part of the game plan.

Why is this? It's clear that Brandon Browner has locked down the starting cornerback spot with Darrelle Revis, which means that Dennard would be a back-up, or a slot person. It's also evident that he struggled mightily when playing in space, where he doesn't have the sideline to help.

Perhaps its his limited value on special teams that has allowed both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler to leap him on the depth chart. Still with Butler seeing significant snaps on the outside (and yes, he's jumped Ryan, too), it stands to question why Dennard wasn't active if this was part of the game plan.

Two theories:

1) Dennard is actually down in the depth chart. Ryan and Butler have both passed him in the game plan where their defense isn't considerably different, but they provide more special teams value. That gives them the game day nod.

2) Bill Belichik and the Patriots are saving Dennard for the Colts. There's absolutely no reason to play him with all this depth; Dennard is generally fragile, he's dealing with an injury: why not let him rest to be 100%?

Also, here's a big one: in Andrew Luck's two games against the Patriots, he's thrown in Dennard's direction an astounding twenty times. 20. The results: a mere seven completions, with three interceptions and three passes defended. One touchdown.

Dennard lives for the games against Luck.

Kyle Arrington, who also has nagging injuries, played a mere total of 10 snaps in weeks 7 and 8 before suiting up for 55 in week 9 against Wes Welker and the Broncos. Why not handle Dennard in a similar fashion?

The Patriots have a bye week for everyone to heal. There was no pressing need for Dennard to line up. Brandon Browner will likely be needed against the Colts formidable tight ends.

Let's see if Dennard is truly out of the defensive picture; or maybe he's just waiting for the right moment to appear.