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Patriots vs. Dolphins inactives: New England missing a handful of defensive starters

Related: Patriots elevate three from practice squad on eve of finale

NFL: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots travel south to Miami to square off against the Dolphins in their regular season finale. As they take the field Sunday, they will do so without several members of their regular starting defense.

Before the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium, here’s who is both active and inactive for both squads.

Patriots inactives

LB Dont’a Hightower

FS Kyle Dugger

RB J.J. Taylor

TE Devin Asiasi

QB Jarrett Stidham

After being a limited participant in practice the past few weeks with a knee injury, the Patriots downgraded linebacker Dont’a Hightower to out on Saturday. With a playoff spot already wrapped up, the Patriots had little reason to push the veteran to suit up in Week 18.

Joining Hightower on the sideline will be a trio of defensive backs. After being absent from practice throughout the week, safety Kyle Dugger will miss Sunday’s finale with a hand injury. Cornerback Shaun Wade was a late addition to the Patriots injury report on Sunday. The team announced the rookie would be inactive due to an illness, despite not listing him on their final inactive list. Myles Bryant also will not play against Miami, as he was placed on the Covid-19/reserve list earlier in the week.

With several missing pieces in the secondary, the Patriots elevated two defensive backs off of the practice squad. Safety Sean Davis will serve as a standard elevation, while cornerback D’Angelo Ross joins defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale as Covid-19 replacements.

Cornerback Joejuan Williams will also be active for the first time since Week 13.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who has missed the team’s last two contest, will return to the field Sunday after clearing concussion protocol. N’Keal Harry will also make his return after being a healthy scratch last week.

Dolphins inactives

WR Preston Williams

RB Salvon Ahmed

DE Darius Hodge

OLB Vince Biegel

TE Hunter Long

The Dolphins final injury report on Friday featured no players, meaning they have a full squad for their finale.