In not even 90 minutes, the New England Patriots will play their 13th game of the 2017 regular season. Going against the Miami Dolphins on the road, the Patriots – two weeks after a 35-17 defeat of Miami – will try to improve their record to 11-2 and keep pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the race for the AFC's number one seed.
However, the team will not exactly be at full strength as a look at the recently released list of inactives shows:
OT Marcus Cannon
OT Cole Croston
DE Trey Flowers
RB Mike Gillislee
LB David Harris
SS Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy
With the exception of David Harris and Cole Croston the inactives were already known prior to today. Marcus Cannon and Kyle Van Noy have already been ruled out on Saturday and will be replaced in the starting lineups by LaAdrian Waddle as well as in Van Noy’s case a combination of – among others – linebacker Elandon Roberts and defensive edges Trevor Reilly and Eric Lee.
The latter two are also projected to help replace defensive edge Trey Flowers, who misses his second straight game with a rib injury. He is one of three players who were declared inactive yesterday, joining Brandon King and Mike Gillislee. While Gillislee was expected to be a healthy scratch before his illness, King was not – the 24-year old is a core special teamer. He will be replaced in part by newly added Jonathan Freeny.
Like Gillislee, Cole Croston appears to be a depth players at this point in time. Seeing him inactive is therefore no surprise. The inactivity of David Harris, on the other hand, is – especially with Van Noy out. The veteran played some solid football the last few weeks so his inactivity was not expected prior to today.
This, of course, also means that other players will make their return: Wide receiver Chris Hogan is back after missing the last four games with a shoulder injury. The wideout gives New England another weapon with Rob Gronkowski out with a suspension and brings size to the Patriots' aerial attack.
Also returning are team captain and special teams ace Matthew Slater, who was out the last three contests and should help soften the blow of King's absence, and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Waddle missed last week's game against Buffalo with an ankle injury but will return as the starting right tackle.
The Dolphins' inactives, for comparison look as follows:
QB Matt Moore
RB Damien Williams
CB Cordrea Tankersley
OG Isaac Asiata
OG Jermon Bushrod
DE Cameron Malveaux
TE A.J. Derby
As expected, Miami is without two of the starters from its last meeting with the Patriots: Matt Moore is out as regular starter Jay Cutler returns at quarterback, while starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley was downgraded from “doubtful” to “out” today. Ex-Patriots tight end A.J. Derby will not play his former team.