The New England Patriots have traveled to Houston on Saturday for their upcoming meeting with the Texans, but two players have not made the trip: as was announced by the club, defensive tackle Adam Butler and running back J.J. Taylor will not partake in its Week 11 game.
While Taylor is little more than an emergency player at this stage of his career, Butler has been a key member of New England’s defensive tackle rotation so far. The 26-year-old, who first joined the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent back in 2017, has appeared in all nine games so far this season and played 212 of a possible 537 defensive snaps (39.5%). However, he has also dealt with a shoulder along the way.
Butler was listed continuously on the injury report between Weeks 2 and 7 because of the issue, and popped up on the list again earlier this week. He was limited during all three practices preparing for the Texans, and listed as questionable heading into the weekend. However, it appears as if the team is not willing to use him on Sunday.
His inactivity this week will end an impressive streak. Butler has played in 64 consecutive games entering this week, after all: he has not missed any of his 57 regular season opportunities since joining the Patriots and was also active for all seven playoff games — quite an accomplishment for a player who did not hear his name called on draft day.
With Butler out, the Patriots have five interior defensive linemen remaining on their 53-man roster: Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr, Byron Cowart, Carl Davis and Isaiah Mack. The team furthermore has Bill Murray and Nick Thurman as depth options on its practice squad and recently hosted free agent Akeem Spence on a workout.
As for Taylor, he would likely not have seen the field even when healthy. The Patriots are activating Sony Michel from injured reserve this week, while Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and James White are also all ahead of the rookie on the depth chart. Taylor last saw the field in Week 3, and it would be a surprise if he added to his current stat-line of 16 rushing attempts for 70 yards in any significant capacity.