Patriots Rumors: Kyle Dugger ‘Highly Unlikely’ To Play Monday Vs. Bills

Dugger is on the reserve/COVID-19 list

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December 6, 2021

The New England Patriots likely will be without one of their most important defenders as they visit the Buffalo Bills for “Monday Night Football.”

Starting strong safety Kyle Dugger is “highly unlikely” to suit up against Buffalo, according to a report Monday from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

Dugger was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday and has yet to be activated. The 2020 second-round draft pick has appeared in all 12 of New England’s games this season, starting 10 and playing 81.3% of defensive snaps. He leads the team with 80 total tackles and has three interceptions.

Losing Dugger would prevent the Patriots from deploying their favored three-safety package — veterans Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips also have snap rates above 80% this season — and likely would lead to a larger role for second-year defensive back Myles Bryant. Bryant is both the Patriots’ top slot cornerback with Jonathan Jones lost for the season and their fourth safety.

Rangy corner Joejuan Williams could see his playing time increase, as well. Dugger is the Patriots’ top man-coverage option against tight ends, and Williams has some experience in that role, though not much this season. Bills tight end Dawson Knox is a tough cover with seven touchdown catches in nine games.

New England also could choose to elevate safety Sean Davis from their practice squad for additional depth. The 28-year-old Davis is a former Pittsburgh Steelers starter who’s also spent time with the Washington Football Team, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals. He joined the Patriots on Oct. 13 and has yet to appear in a game for New England.

That Dugger has not officially been ruled out for Monday seems to indicate he is vaccinated. Players who have received the vaccine can be activated off the COVID list once they return two negative tests separated by 24 hours and have been symptom-free for 48 hours. Unvaccinated players must sit out a minimum of 10 days.

Kickoff at Highmark Stadium is set for 8:15 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports Images
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