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Inactive Analysis: Defense loses two key players

A rapid-reaction examination of who will and won't suit up for Week 16.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After leaving the Dolphins game prematurely last weekend with a shoulder problem, LB and co-captain Ja'Whaun Bentley was limited all this past week in practices and will be held out of tonight's game versus Buffalo.

Another defensive co-captain, Lawrence Guy, is also dealing with a shoulder injury that has limited his practice activity and he, too, will sit out tonight contest. In addition, the defense will be without contributing pass rusher Shilique Calhoun, who's been limited by a knee injury.

As a result of this sudden depth shortage on defense, the Patriots promoted a pair of practice squad defenders for tonight's game: rookie LB Cassh Maluia and defensive lineman Nick Thurman. The latter saw a bit of action in half a dozen games at the beginning of the season. Ditto for Maluia, who's been on the practice squad the past month or so.

On the other side of the ball, RB Damien Harris, who didn't even travel to Miami for last week's game, is a scratch from the lineup again tonight due to a lingering ankle issue. In his stead, Sony Michel will likely see a bulk of the carries versus Buffalo.

With the last-minute signing of 27-year-old journeyman center Marcus Martin, it appeared that starting center and co-captain David Andrews, who injured a calf muscle last weekend in Miami and had to leave the game early, might not be available for this game. However, Martin is among the Patriots who've been deactivated, meaning Andrews, originally listed as Questionable, will give it a go. If he can't finish, veteran James Ferentz would likely take over, as he did in Miami a week ago.

As has been the case since October, third-string QB Brian Hoyer is inactive as well. Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham are the two passers dressing tonight.

From the other sideline, the Bills are deactivating four players tonight, including a pair of backup quarterbacks, but no one of significance to the depth chart. Buffalo should be at full strength for this game.

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