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Inactive Analysis: Dugger's return a boost to secondary

A rapid-reaction examination of who will and won't suit up for the Patriots in Week 15 against the Colts.


Playmaking safety Kyle Dugger is back in the lineup tonight, after having had to miss the last Patriots game at Buffalo due to COVID-19. Dugger recently returned to practice and should help give the secondary a lift tonight in Indianapolis, both against the pass and versus the vaunted Colts rushing attack.

Of course, the news isn't all positive with regard to New England's inactive list for this game. As we explained in a previous post, RB Damien Harris is out thanks to the hamstring issue he incurred at Buffalo two weeks ago. The Patriots only had two running backs on the roster until moments ago, when they promoted Devin Ozigbo from the practice squad. He'll provide emergency depth behind veteran Brandon Bolden and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson.

New England was also forced to elevate veteran O-lineman James Ferentz tonight as that group is without a pair of players, Yodny Cajuste (ruled out Friday with an illness) and Yasir Durant (COVID).

To get down to the league-mandated 48-man game roster, the Patriots had to deactivate six players total tonight. In addition to Harris and Cajuste, third-string QB Jarrett Stidham, defensive back Joejuan Williams, tight end Devin Asiasi, and rookie safety Joshuah Bledsoe (fresh off the NFI list) will also sit this one out. No surprises, really, among any of those names.

However, defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale has been a pleasant surprise this season, having come up from the practice squad a couple of times already and registered a handful of sacks. He's been promoted once again for this game. Keep an eye on him tonight.

From a Colts perspective, there are two significant names headed in opposite directions. Indy will be minus its starting center, Ryan Kelly, for the second consecutive game. All this past week, he'd been dealing with a knee injury, an illness, and a personal issue that caused him to miss portions of practice. Originally listed as questionable to suit up tonight, he was later downgrade by the Colts and will not play.

His absence could be an advantage for New England's interior defensive line, which has been able to produce some pressure against opposing quarterbacks up the middle at times this season.

On Indy's defense, starting nose tackle Grover Stewart will attempt to play despite an illness that first made the Colts list him as questionable.

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