The New England Patriots have ruled five players out for today’s game against the Buffalo Bills, and the only one that doesn’t come as a surprise is the downgrading of Rob Gronkowski’s injury status. There was no doubt that he would be out for today’s game, and now his injury designation reflects that. But Aaron Dobson is a semi-surprising downgrade, and it was also interesting to see the Patriots downgrade Brandon Bolden, Nate Ebner, and Duron Harmon. The moves were reported by the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe.
With Nate Ebner and Duron Harmon out, the Patriots depth at safety could be an issue. Devin McCourty is locked in at free safety and Steve Gregory will start at strong safety, but the only backup is Tavon Wilson. I trust in Wilson and view him as a significantly superior player to Harmon and Ebner, so this shouldn’t be too big of an issue. I wonder if we’ll see any three safety sets, because they could play Steve Gregory close to the line of scrimmage, use Wilson in intermediate coverage, and play D-Mac deep or bracketing Stevie Johnson. Why Gregory close to the LOS? That’s where he is at his best, and he could get some nice safety blitzes on rookie QB E.J. Manuel.
Brandon Bolden had a coming out party as a rookie in the Patriots first game against the Buffalo Bills, as he and Stevan Ridley scampered across the Bills defense to the tune of over 100 yards rushing each. Bolden’s absence is notable, but it was expected once the Patriots decided to sign Leon Washington.
Bolden, Ebner, and Harmon were all listed questionable, as was Aaron Dobson, who has also been ruled out. Rob Gronkowski? He was listed doubtful, but there was never any doubt that he would be out.