NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Patriots and Buffalo Bills square off at 1pm eastern in the first AFC East tilt for New England. With the Bills sitting at 2-1 and the Patriots at 1-2, this game has suddenly become quite important for early positioning in the race to make the playoffs.
Follow along for all the updates this morning, including injuries, inactives and more.
9:00am – Injury update: Julian Edelman, Logan Mankins, Justin Francis, Alfonzo Dennard, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Deaderick have already been ruled out of today’s game.
With Mankins out, the Patriots signed OG/OC Matt Tennant to improve the interior line depth. Expect to see Ryan Wendell, Donald Thomas, Dan Connolly, Nick McDonald, Tennant or perhaps even Marcus Cannon manning the three interior spots against Buffalo.
9:10am – With Edelman and Hernandez out of the game, Mike Reiss expects Shane Vereen (if healthy) to get a chance to show what he can do in the screen game. He has flashed the ability before, it is now time to make some contributions when it counts.
9:20am – According to Adam Schefter yesterday, Rob Gronkowski is expected to play, despite being listed as questionable. With the uncertainty around the Patriots offensive line, however, don’t be surprised if he is asked to help out in the blocking game.
9:25am – While the Patriots and Bills are playing, the Jets have a tough test against the 49ers and the Dolphins get their own chance at knocking off the Arizona Cardinals.
9:45am – Reports out of Buffalo are that the weather is cold and rainy, this could mean that the Patriots spend extra focus on getting the running game going. However, if recent history is any indication when the weather is poor the Patriots love to move fast through the air, since the conditions effect the defense more so than the offensive players.
10:00am – The Patriots have already declared six players inactive: Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman, Brandon Deaderick, Logan Mankins, Justin Francis and Alfonzo Dennard, they only have to declare one more player inactive before game time. This means that players like Shane Vereen or Jake Bequette could be making their season debut today. If Shane Vereen is the final inactive, it would be a damning statement for where he stands in Bill Belichick’s eyes. Also, recently signed DT Terrell McClain and OC Matt Tennant both should be active today, to provide depth at position of injuries.
10:38am – Reports from Buffalo say that Fred Jackson will definitely play and will see most of the work, but now there are also reports that CJ Spiller will play as well. Neither player is 100%, so how they hold up and play throughout the game remains to be seen. I expect the Patriots pay extra attention to stopping these two guys and let Ryan Fitzpatrick beat them if he can.
11:30am – The final Patriots inactive is OL Matt Tennant who was signed yesterday. This means that Shane Vereen, Jake Bequette and Terrell McClain make their Patriot season debuts today. On the other side of the field both Frad Jackson and CJ Spiller are active.
11:35am – The full Buffalo Bills inactive list is: QB Tavaris Jackson, SS Delano Howell, DE Kyle Moore, LB Kirk Morrison, OT Sam Young, OC Colin Brown and WR Ruvell Martin.
12:15pm – According to Greg Bedard, C.J. Spiller is working out on the field and “looks laborious”.