Patriots Inactives Reaction: Jalen Mills, Two Tackles Ruled Out

The Patriots will be missing some key players Thursday night


December 1, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — We already knew the New England Patriots would be without two starters Thursday night. Turns out, they’ll be down two more.

Cornerback Jalen Mills and right tackle Yodny Cajuste both were ruled out for the Patriots’ primetime matchup with the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, leaving New England short-staffed in the secondary and along the offensive line. Mills (groin) and Cajuste (calf) had been listed as questionable due to injury.

The Patriots already had ruled out tackle/guard Isaiah Wynn (foot) and running back Damien Harris (thigh).

Mills’ absence likely will thrust impressive rookie cornerback Jack Jones into the starting lineup and result in a larger role for first-year slot corner Marcus Jones, who’s seen sporadic playing time behind starter Myles Bryant this season. That group will look to keep pace with an explosive Bills receiving corps headlined by Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie.

With Cajuste and Wynn unavailable and Marcus Cannon on injured reserve, the Patriots will be extremely thin at tackle. Their replacement options at right tackle are Conor McDermott, who signed off the New York Jets’ practice squad last week, and Mike Onwenu, who’s started every game at right guard this season but has performed well at right tackle in the past. Whichever of those players does not start will be the team’s only reserve tackle.

Starting left tackle Trent Brown is active, but he popped up on the injury report with an illness hours before the game, so he might not be at full strength. Fortunately for the Patriots, that group will not face standout pass rusher Von Miller, who was placed on IR before the game.

Rounding out the Patriots’ inactives are defensive tackle Carl Davis, cornerback Shaun Wade and safety Joshuah Bledsoe, all of whom are healthy scratches. Rookie D-tackle Sam Roberts draws back into the lineup for the first time since Week 7, and rookie running back Kevin Harris is active for the first time since Week 6. He and rookie Pierre Strong — who have combined for just 10 yards on four carries this season — will provide depth behind lead back Rhamondre Stevenson with Damien Harris sidelined.

Starting center David Andrews and No. 1 receiver Jakobi Meyers both are active after being listed as questionable. Andrews missed last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings with a thigh injury, and Meyers injured his shoulder during that game, limiting him a season-low 16 offensive snaps.

The Patriots elevated kicker Tristan Vizcaino and guard Bill Murray from the practice squad for the game. Expect Vizcaino to kick off while Nick Folk handles field goals and extra points.

The Bills’ inactive list features first-round rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam, who sits out as a healthy scratch. Elam was widely viewed as a potential Patriots target before going to Buffalo at No. 24 overall. Starting left tackle Dion Dawkins also will not play for the Bills after being ruled out Wednesday.

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