We've seen this coming all week, but now it's official : starting safety Kyle Dugger will miss his first game of the 2021 season, as he remains on New England's reserve COVID list. Dugger was placed there Wednesday and hadn't been able to practice all week as a result, so, it's not at all surprising that he won't be in uniform tonight. Dugger's absence will be missed in the Patriots secondary, though, as he's become a valuable element of this defense in this, his second season.
In what seems like a corresponding move, the club promoted a safety from the practice squad today, veteran Sean Davis, who will be among the 48 active Patriots for tonight's game.
Some good news for the Patriots regarding injuries, as linebacker Jamie Collins returns from injured reserve. He's been sidelined the past three weeks with an ankle problem, but he'll be available to the team tonight.
Five of the half-dozen New England players deactivated for this Buffalo matchup are regular inclusions on this list and thus no surprise: QB Jarrett Stidham, offensive lineman Yasir Durant, tight end Devin Asiasi, rookie cornerback Shaun Wade, and rookie edge rusher Ronnie Perkins. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai makes it six for the Patriots tonight, and his addition to the inactive list is likely a direct result of Collins being back. Tavai had been a regular substitute contributor for most of this season.
Buffalo, meantime, will not have its best cornerback, Tre'Davious White, who was recently placed in the Bills' injured reserve list with a knee injury. In his stead, backup Dane Jackson is expected to start. It'll be interesting to see how much the Patriots throw in his direction tonight.
Buffalo's two regular kick and punt returners won't be playing tonight – Isaiah McKenzie and Marquez Stevenson are both healthy scratches. Who will return kicks for the Bills tonight is up in the air (no pun intended), but that person or persons could be in for a challenge with the tricky weather expected in Western New York. Otherwise, the Bills have no significant names among their inactive players this game.