Projecting possible inactive players

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
11:00
AM ET
Roughly 90 minutes before kickoff, we'll receive word on the official list of seven inactive players for the Patriots during their Week 4 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

But before we receive that list, here's a projection of which seven players might not suit up, based on injury, depth, developmental, and other considerations.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez
Reason: Right ankle injury
Quick-hit: Hernandez remains on the mend from a right ankle injury suffered in Week 2, and was once again ruled out by the team for Week 4. The exact timetable for his return remains unclear.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman
Reason: Left hand injury
Quick-hit: Edelman left last week's game with a left hand injury, and was absent from the team's three practices this week. The team officially ruled him out on Friday's practice report.

Running back Shane Vereen
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: A foot injury suffered late in training camp set Vereen's strong start back, and he has yet to crack the game-day roster to date. With Stevan Ridley running well, Danny Woodhead serving in a change-of-pace role and Brandon Bolden earning reps as both a runner and core special-teamer, the team may feel it more important to build depth elsewhere on the roster.

Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick
Reason: Injury
Quick-hit: After missing Week 3 with an ankle injury, Deaderick was held out of Wednesday's practice before returning to the field on a limited basis on Thursday. He was once again a nonparticipant on Friday, which is perhaps a suggestion that his ankle isn't coming along as he had hoped, and will once again keep him out for Week 4.

Defensive end Justin Francis
Reason: Depth/developmental/injury
Quick-hit: The undrafted rookie is a player who probably wouldn't be on the game-day roster if he were entirely healthy, as the Patriots have sufficient depth at his position already, but couple that with an ankle injury that has him listed as questionable, and it seems unlikely that Francis will make his NFL debut this Sunday.

Defensive end Jake Bequette
Reason: Developmental
Quick-hit: Inactive in each of the team's first three games, Bequette, a third-round pick this year, appears to be near the bottom of the defensive end depth chart. While he flashed at times during training camp, he may be a player that needs a full season to develop into a game-ready participant.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard
Reason: Developmental/depth/injury
Quick-hit: Dennard has yet to suit up on the game-day roster, and is another player who continues to develop in his rookie season. On top of that, the Patriots possess depth at cornerback, with Sterling Moore, Ras-I Dowling and veteran Marquice Cole backing up starters Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington. Finally, Dennard is listed as questionable for the game with a hamstring injury.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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