The three players who were most heavily speculating as being ruled out have been officially ruled out by the New England Patriots, with tight end Rob Gronkowski being the least surprising of the inactives. Sources close to ESPN, the NFL Network, and the Boston Globe all said that Gronk would be out against the Jacksonville Jaguars, because the Patriots plan is to rest him up for the postseason.
Gronkowski is expected to play the final game of the regular season against the Miami Dolphins as some sort of a warm-up to help him get ready for the tough tests that the playoffs will bring. The Patriots will face even tougher tests now that they are expected to be the No. 3 seed, but I’m holding out hope for a Denver Broncos upset against the Cleveland Browns.
Brandon Spikes came into last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers injured, and backup Mike Rivera actually started the first series in his place. The Patriots need Spikes healthy in the playoffs, because the drop-off between him and Rivera is huge (as we saw at points last week). Rivera was also listed questionable on the injury report, and it looks like he will be getting the start. That’s not going to be a big deal against a Jacksonville Jaguars rushing attack that has been dealing with even more injuries.
The health of the defensive backs is key for the New England Patriots as well, so it is no surprise that Alfonzo Dennard has also been ruled out. The solid rookie cornerback suffered injuries in each of the past two games, and he definitely deserves the rest. He’s been playing some physical football as a rookie, and I’m not the only one who has been very impressed with his play this year.
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