PITTSBURGH – When the Patriots distributed their final injury report on Friday, no one on New England’s roster was listed – an absolutely remarkable occurrence at any time of year, but particularly this late in the season, when almost every player in the league is dealing with some sort of ache, pain, bruise, or discomfort.
Tight end Dwayne Allen (left knee) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (ankle) had been on it earlier, but by virtue of their full participation in practices all week, they were removed entirely. Late Saturday, after arriving in Pittsburgh, the team added LB Elandon Roberts to the injury report as questionable with a thigh injury. However, he will be among the 46 active players for today’s contest.
So will Allen, who’ll be making his first game appearance since injuring his left knee at Tennessee last month. Allen’s run-blocking expertise should help a Patriots running game that wasn’t very productive last week in South Florida.
With Allen back in the lineup, second-year tight end Jacob Hollister will sit this one out. Defensive back Obi Melifonwu joins him, just a week after dressing, but not playing a down in Miami. Rookie corner Keion Crossen, who has been held out of recent games, will be active again today.
The remainder of New England’s inactive players form a familiar list of healthy scratches: defensive tackle Danny Shelton, defensive ends Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers, offensive lineman James Ferentz, and rookie cornerback Duke Dawson, who has yet to see action in a game this season.
Over on Pittsburgh’s sideline, the big news is that second-year starting running back James Connor will not dress due to an ankle injury that kept him out of all but one practice session this past week. Connor was limited on Friday, deemed questionable thereafter on Pittsburgh’s final injury report, then downgraded to doubtful last night.
The Steelers’ rushing attack suffered last week without Connor in the lineup. Rookie Jaylen Samuels and former Patriot Stevan Ridley will likely get the carries for Pittsburgh today.