Projecting Pats' inactives vs. Dolphins

December, 1, 2012
The Patriots will take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and a division title would come along with a win. The team won't be at full strength, however, as a number of players are banged up and their status for Sunday looks shaky. Taking into account both injuries and depth, here's a projection of the seven players who will be inactive for the Patriots:

[+] EnlargeMarquice Cole
AP photo/Jim MahoneyDon't be surprised if DB Marquice Cole doesn't suit up at Miami.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski
Reason: Health
Quick-hit: There's no mystery involved here, as Gronkowski continues to recover from a broken forearm suffered in Week 11.

Guard Logan Mankins
Reason: Health
Quick-hit: After missing practice all week (calf/ankle), Mankins will miss his fifth game in 2012. Count on Donald Thomas to earn another start in his place.

Defensive end Chandler Jones
Reason: Health
Quick-hit: Jones, like Mankins and Gronk, did not participate in practice this week, and he will not return to action this Sunday from a Week 11 ankle injury.

Offensive lineman Markus Zusevics
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: After being activated to the 53-man roster just before the game against the Jets last Thursday, Zusevics was among the Patriots' inactives that night. Look for the same to hold true this week.

Cornerback Marquice Cole
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: With Kyle Arrington now serving in a nickel cornerback role and Aqib Talib providing special teams value, Cole could once again sit this week. Derrick Martin would likely be called upon if a fourth cornerback is needed.

Defensive end Jake Bequette
Reason: Development
Quick-hit: Even with Jermaine Cunningham suspended, Bequette may still sit. Remember, the Patriots have dressed only two tight ends and four wide receivers in previous games, and may roll with just three natural defensive ends this weekend: Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott and Justin Francis.

Fullback James Develin
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: The Patriots have run the ball just fine without a fullback in 2012, so it's not a stretch to think they'll opt to play without one again this week. Though Develin also provides special teams value, the Patriots have a strong core of special teamers with a similar skill set.
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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