Patriots Inactives Reaction: Who Replaces Jakobi Meyers, Kyle Dugger?

The Patriots are missing two key starters

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September 25

FOXBORO, Mass. — If the New England Patriots are to exploit Baltimore’s suspect pass defense in their home opener, they’ll need to do so without their most productive and reliable receiver.

Wideout Jakobi Meyers officially is inactive for Sunday’s Patriots-Ravens matchup at Gillette Stadium after a lingering knee injury kept him out of two of the team’s three practices this week.

Meyers leads all Patriots pass-catchers in targets (19), receptions (13) and receiving yards (150) through two games, just as he did in each of the last two seasons. He also is quarterback Mac Jones’ most trusted target on third downs. This will be the first game the 25-year-old has missed due to injury in his four-year NFL career.

With Meyers sidelined, the pressure will be on players like DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne to produce. Parker, New England’s marquee offseason addition, leads all Patriots skill players in snaps played this season but has just one catch on four targets, with two of those resulting in interceptions.

Bourne has ranked fifth among Patriots wideouts in playing time in each of the first two weeks, but his role should increase against the Ravens. He was the Patriots’ top big-play threat in 2021 and showed during last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers that he still can produce when called upon (two first downs on three targets, plus another that was called back for a penalty).

Wideout Nelson Agholor is coming off his best performance in a Patriots uniform (six catches, 110 yards, one touchdown in Week 2) after an encouraging training camp. Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who primarily has been used as a run blocker thus far, rounds out the Patriots’ group of available receivers. The team chose not to elevate Tre Nixon, Lynn Bowden or Laquon Treadwell from the practice squad for Sunday’s game.

The Patriots also will need more from high-priced tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — who have combined for just five this season and were shut out against Pittsburgh — and could lean more on running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as pass-catching options on third down. Harris and Stevenson jointly replaced third-down back Ty Montgomery last week, and though they held up well in blitz pickup, they teamed up for just three catches for 20 yards.

Baltimore enters Week 3 ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and 25th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA.

Meyers isn’t the only Patriots starter who will be unavailable for Sunday’s contest. Safety Kyle Dugger also is inactive after leaving the Steelers game with a knee injury.

Dugger played a key role in New England’s plan to defend Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson when these teams last met in 2020, registering a career-high 12 tackles in an upset victory for New England. Fourth safety Jabrill Peppers should see his playing time increase in Dugger’s absence. Athletic linebacker Mack Wilson’s could, as well. Second-year safety Joshuah Bledsoe also is active for the first time in his NFL career, providing an additional layer of depth behind Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips and Peppers.

Starting cornerback Jalen Mills, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, special teamer Cody Davis, Phillips and Bledsoe all are active after being listed as questionable with injuries.

Rounding out the Patriots’ inactive list are linebacker Raekwon McMillan, defensive lineman Sam Roberts, quarterback Bailey Zappe and cornerback Shaun Wade. McMillan, who lost his starting spot to Mack Wilson in Week 2, was questionable with a thumb ailment. Roberts, Zappe and Wade are healthy scratches.

Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones draws back into the lineup after sitting out last week’s game as a healthy inactive. Jones could take over for Myles Bryant as the Patriots’ top punt returner after Bryant muffed a punt early in the Steelers game.

For the Ravens, running back J.K. Dobbins returns from the knee injury that wiped out his 2021 season and his first two games of 2022. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley headlines Baltimore’s inactive list.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.

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Thumbnail photo via David Dermer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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