In a little more than one hour, the New England Patriots will face the equally winless New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately for the defending world champions, they will have to do so without some key contributors in all three phases of the game. A look at today's list of inactive players reflects this:
WR Danny Amendola
OT Cole Croston
ST Nate Ebner
LB Dont'a Hightower
ST Matthew Slater
DT Vincent Valentine
OT LaAdrian Waddle
Even before the New England Patriots have released their list of inactives, five names were already known: Danny Amendola, Dont'a Hightower, Matthew Slater and Vincent Valentine have all been declared out on Friday, while Nate Ebner was added to the list late Saturday afternoon. Consequently, the Patriots only needed to deactivate two more players and they opted to go with Cole Croston and LaAdrian Waddle.
While Slater and Ebner are core special teamers, the most impactful losses project to be Amendola and Hightower. After all, both have been key contributors in week one as Amendola led the team in catches and receiving yards while Hightower was his usual stout self against the pass and the run, on the edge and the interior. Even though replacing both will not be easy, the team has had more than one week to prepare.
While the seven players above will not play tonight, two youngsters will make their debut: Defensive edge Harvey Langi and tight end Jacob Hollister, both inactive last week, will play their first ever NFL regular season game today.
For comparison, let's take a look at the Saints' inactives:
LB Stephone Anthony
OT Terron Armstead
WR Austin Carr
CB Ken Crawley
QB Taysom Hill
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad
OT Zach Strief
As has already been announced on Friday, New Orleans' nominal starting offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Zach Strief will miss today's game. In their place, rookie Ryan Ramczyk and Bryce Harris – who has not played in a regular season game since 2015 – will start at left and right offensive tackle, respectively.
Another notable name on the Saints' inactives list is Austin Carr. The wide receiver originally entered the NFL as an undrafted signee by the Patriots but despite being a standout throughout training camp and preseason was released on roster cutdown day. The Saints claimed him on waivers but he has yet to appear in a game for the team.