The New England Patriots will be without two defensive starters Monday night against the Buffalo Bills.
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, both captains, are out Week 16 with injuries.
Here’s the Patriots’ full inactive list:
QB Brian Hoyer
RB Damien Harris (ankle)
C Marcus Martin
DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder)
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (shoulder)
OLB Shilique Calhoun (knee)
— The Patriots’ backfield stable will consist of running backs Sony Michel, James White and rookie J.J. Taylor. Expect Michel to get the bulk of the carries, but Taylor is a player with potential to watch.
— Martin just signed Monday afternoon. Tackles Justin Herron, Mike Onwenu, Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor, guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason and centers David Andrews and James Ferentz will dress. We’ll see who starts at left tackle between Herron and Eluemunor.
— Nick Thurman, a COVID-19 replacement, was elevated off of the practice squad. He’ll take Guy’s place in the defensive tackle rotation along with Byron Cowart, Adam Butler and Akeem Spence.
— Linebacker Cassh Maluia also was elevated from the practice squad to play the Bills. He’ll help fill in for Bentley though Terez Hall and rookie Anfernee Jennings likely will receive most of the reps at inside linebacker.
— Calhoun struggled as a run defender last week. Jennings, Josh Uche, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Tashawn Bower and Deatrich Wise are available as edge defenders. We’d like to see more of Winovich and Uche, the Patriots’ best two pass rushers.
— Joejuan Williams is back in the lineup to help replace Stephon Gilmore, who was placed on injured reserve this week. Williams was a healthy scratch last week and could help cover Bills rookie wideout Gabriel Davis. The Patriots need to know what they have in Williams as a cornerback before next season.
— Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene are the only available tight ends with Jordan Thomas on COVID-19/reserve.
— Wide receiver Julian Edelman was not activated off of injured reserve. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn, tight end Ryan Izzo, offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste and defensive tackle Carl Davis also remain on IR.