Inactives Analysis: McCourty, Patterson back in the lineup

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FOXBOROUGH – As one of the NFL’s healthiest teams in the 2018 playoffs, New England listed just one player on its final injury report this past week. An ankle injury limited defensive end Deatrich Wise in practices and will keep him out of today’s Divisional Playoff versus Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, safety/co-captain Devin McCourty (concussion) and WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) were on the list to start the week, but were removed after fully participating in practices. Tight end Dwayne Allen (left knee) was also an early-week listing, but he, too, was removed along with McCourty and Patterson. All three will be available for the Patriots today.

McCourty, of course, provides a steady veteran presence as the leader of New England’s secondary, while Patterson is a versatile player who returns kicks and occasionally takes handoffs at running back in addition to his normal role as a pass catcher. Patterson has been on the mend since injuring his left knee against the Bills in Week 16, while McCourty took full advantage of last week’s playoff bye to recover from a concussion suffered in the regular season finale versus the Jets.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn will suit up for the first time since the loss to Pittsburgh in Week 15. He was a healthy scratch in the final two regular season games. The Patriots must feel good about having him in the lineup for this matchup with the Chargers because they continue to deactivate DE Keionta Davis (healthy scratch) and have added Ufomba Kamalu to the inactive list today. He, too, is fit and otherwise available, but New England is electing to sit three defensive ends today, something they’ve done a number of times this season.

Recently promoted from the practice squad, tight end Stephen Anderson will not see action today. He’s among the remaining healthy scratches on the inactive list for New England. The others are routinely placed on this list, so, it’s no surprise to see them there today again: offensive lineman James Ferentz, defensive back Obi Melifonwu, and rookie cornerback Duke Dawson.

From a Chargers perspective, the most important player to appear on their injury report last week was starting running back Melvin Gordon (knee), but Gordon was eventually removed from the report as well and will suit up today versus New England. Gordon sat out Wednesday’s practice in L.A. and was limited the next day.

Though likely less than 100-percent, Gordon could be a crucial component to Los Angeles’ hopes of beating the Patriots today, particularly if the frigid temperatures make throwing the football more difficult for QB Phillip Rivers.

Another notable activation for L.A.: tight end Hunter Henry, who suffered a freak ACL injury to his right knee back in May. This will be Henry’s first game of the season, and his presence could provide a boost to the Chargers’ passing game.

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