The Patriots roster is feeling the attrition of the NFL season at the unofficial halfway point, with several key contributors inactive against the Colts for Sunday's matchup at Gillette Stadium.
Earlier this week, the team ruled out starting center David Andrews (concussion), wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), and placed OT Marcus Cannon on injured reserve due to a head injury.
Along with the pre-determined inactives, the Patriots will also be down running back Damien Harris (illness) and defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee). Rounding out the inactive list are healthy scratches in RB Kevin Harris, DB Shaun Wade, S Joshuah Bledsoe, and DT Sam Roberts.
With Harris inactive, the Pats are dressing three running backs as recent 53-man roster addition J.J. Taylor and rookie Pierre Strong are active behind Rhamondre Stevenson. Taylor could factor in as a spell-back on early downs to run the football between the tackles, while Strong will likely maintain his special teams role covering kicks and serve as an emergency running back.
After ruling out Andrews and placing Cannon on injured reserve due to concussions, the Pats starting five along the offensive line is likely as follows: LT Trent Brown, LG Cole Strange, C James Ferentz, RG Mike Onwenu, RT Isaiah Wynn. With Wynn's struggles this season, he could have a short leash, opening the door for third-year OT Yodny Cajuste.
As for the defensive line without Barmore and a run defense that will be tested despite the Colts ruling All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) out, the Patriots will likely lean on a similar rotation as we saw last week in New York. New England could feature its jumbo three-man line with Davon Godchaux, Carl Davis, and Lawrence Guy, while Deatrich Wise plays a significant role on second and third down.
The good news for the Patriots is that impact safety Kyle Dugger will return to the lineup after a one-week absence due to an ankle injury. Dugger last played in New England's loss to the Bears in Week 7. His return is massive for a Pats run defense that will need to contain a mobile quarterback and designed run element with second-year QB Sam Ehlinger starting for Indy.
New England will also have practice squad elevation Lynn Bowden Jr. active for Sunday's game. Bowden is an intriguing hybrid receiver and running back with big-play ability as a ball carrier. With the Pats expanding their run-pass option package, Bowden could get an opportunity to carry the football on screens and jet sweeps.
The Patriots host the Colts with kickoff at 1 pm ET at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.