NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A mix of good and bad news on this week's Patriots inactive list.
The good: rookie rusher Sony Michel (knee) is back in game action after two weeks on the shelf.
The bad: tight end Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) is still unable to play despite practicing on a limited basis this past week.
Certainly, the presence of Michel in the backfield should help provide better balance for the offense as it seeks to move the ball against a solid Titans defense. Not having Gronkowski in the mix is unfortunate, but with the bye week coming up next weekend, the bright side to this is that he should hopefully be healed sufficiently to return to action down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Shaq Mason won't be in uniform today. For the second straight game, he's out with a calf injury suffered at Buffalo two weeks ago. Mason looked like he had a chance to go – he practiced on a limited basis all week – but was downgraded from questionable status shortly after the club arrived in Nashville Saturday evening.
Ted Karras likely gets the call to start in Mason's right guard spot again today, as he did a week ago versus Green Bay. Karras is a decent substitute (a sack allowed last week notwithstanding), so, this shouldn't be a major concern.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the o-line, Trent Brown will remain at his left tackle spot. Brown was hit with an illness this past week and missed a couple of practices as a result. But he's here in Nashville, as is newly-signed Matt Tobin, but Tobin was among the seven inactive Patriots listed this morning – a good sign for Brown's fitness.
With Michel back, veteran running back Kenjon Barner will sit this one out, as will newcomer in the secondary Obi Melifonwu. DE Derek Rivers and rookie CB Keion Crossen are healthy scratches (not listed on the injury report).
From the Tennessee bench, the Titans will be without one of their best defenders, as OLB Derrick Morgan nurses a shoulder injury. Right tackle Jack Conklin will be missing from the starting lineup because of a concussion.
That's perhaps an area that New England's defensive front might try to exploit in an effort to get pressure on QB Marcus Mariota.