Julian Edelman and Dont'a Hightower have both been downgraded to out for Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Edelman has been nursing a hand injury since the Patriots' win over the Bills, while Hightower went down with a hamstring injury in the same game.
With linebacker Tracy White already out against the Seahawks, Bobby Carpenter may be in line to receive a starter's share of snaps at strong-side linebacker. The Patriots could also play Rob Ninkovich at that position, where he played last season, and stick Jermaine Cunningham or Trevor Scott at Ninkovich's usual left defensive end spot.
The Hightower news comes as a surprise. He was limited all week in practice but said last Friday that he was in no pain and that he would be a game-time decision. Since Patriots players typically don't talk about the extent of their injuries, it has been assumed by some that he may have been kept out by Bill Belichick due to disciplinary actions.
Welker will continue to be the main benefactor of Edelman's injury. Prior to the hand ailment, Edelman was starting over Welker.