New England's Halloween road trip to AFC East-leading Buffalo just got a little scarier.
Having already ruled three players out on Friday for tomorrow's game in Orchard Park, the Patriots added another trio on Saturday, just before departing for Western New York State. Most notable among them: cornerback and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
During Thursday's practice in Foxborough, Gilmore suffered a knee injury that limited him that day and kept him out of action on Friday. This will mark the 30-year-old Gilmore's first missed game since October of 2017, his first season with New England.
With Gilmore a no-go, who will step into his starting spot? Occasional starter J.C. Jackson is an option, although he, too, sustained a knee injury during Friday's practice session, which means veteran Jonathan Jones is a more likely candidate.
A heretofore deep Patriots secondary suddenly became more vulnerable with the news that rookie safety Kyle Dugger (ankle) has also been downgraded to Out versus Buffalo this weekend. Dugger's been dealing with his ailment the past few weeks and was reduced to a spectator last weekend against San Francisco, his first deactivation this season.
That ankle issue has curtailed what has been an otherwise promising start to the rookie's NFL career. Veteran Terrence Brooks is in line to see more action with Dugger on the sidelines again, as he did a week ago versus the 49ers.
Meanwhile, versatile rookie offensive lineman Justin Herron – he, too, dealing with an ankle problem suffered during the San Fran game – will be Out for Buffalo after having been limited during the practice week. In several games this season, Herron (pictured above) has played at right and left tackle, as well as at guard, in both a starting and reserve capacity.
New England has to hope that banged up O-line starters Joe Thuney (ankle) and Shaq Mason (calf) can go the distance against Buffalo. If not, the Patriots might have to look to veteran James Ferentz or second-year man Hjalte Froholdt to step in, if needed, where Herron might have otherwise gotten the call.
This all comes on the heels of New England having declared wide receivers Julian Edelman (knee) and N'Keal Harry (concussion, suffered against San Francisco) Out for this latest Bills meeting. Opportunities now exist for seldom-utilized receivers Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers to show what they can do on offense.