HOUSTON – After sitting out last week’s encounter with Dallas back in Foxborough, WRs Mohamed Sanu (left ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) are back in the New England lineup tonight against the Texans. This should give the Patriots’ offense a needed boost, as the O was limited in its personnel packages last week against the Cowboys while Sanu and Dorsett convalesced.
As for who won’t play, we already knew that three Patriots wouldn’t be in uniform tonight, as CB Jason McCourty (groin), TE Ryan Izzo (illness), and rookie DL Byron Cowart (head) were all ruled out before the team flew to Houston on Saturday.
Four more players from the 53-man roster had to be deactivated Sunday evening to comply with the NFL’s 46-man game-day limit.
An illness that swept through the Patriots’ locker room this past week could have wreaked havoc on the availability of several players, but it turns out just two will be inactive tonight: the aforementioned Izzo and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.
Meanwhile, rookie running back Damien Harris will miss his third straight game, although this week he’s a healthy scratch (not listed on the injury report). Harris was held out of the previous two contests with a hamstring problem that has limited his practice time the past couple of weeks.
Third-string QB Cody Kessler is also once again a healthy scratch, as is o-lineman Korey Cunningham. Both men are frequently on the inactive list.
On the other sideline, Houston will be impacted most on its already-struggling, 20th-ranked defense, as two starters on that side of the ball will be spectators for tonight’s game. OLB Brennan Scarlett and DE Angelo Blackson were each limited all week in practices with shoulder issues.