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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Quick-hit thoughts from Pats inactives

By Mike Reiss

BALTIMORE -- A few quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots' inactive players tonight:

Debut performances for Fells and Winslow -- going with 4 tight ends. Veteran tight end Daniel Fells, who missed the first two games with a shin injury, is active tonight. In addition, veteran tight end Kellen Winslow is active as expected, after joining the team on Tuesday. With Michael Hoomanawanui also dressed along with Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have four tight ends on the 46-man game-day roster.

Branch also dressed for game. Veteran receiver Deion Branch is active tonight, giving the Patriots more depth at receiver than they had last week. They have Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Branch this week, after going with just the top three in Week 2. Special teams captain Matthew Slater is an emergency fifth option.

Back to seven offensive linemen. The Patriots went with one extra offensive lineman last week and didn't have Dan Connolly play in the game, while leaving them short with skill-position players. They've flipped it tonight, going back to seven offensive linemen, as Donald Thomas is the top interior backup, with Marcus Cannon the backup tackle. One figures this means a return to the lineup for Connolly, the starting right guard.

Forston breaks through with Deaderick out. With reserve defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (ankle) not dressing, rookie Marcus Forston is active for the first time this season. Deaderick mostly played in short-yardage situations (29 of 129 snaps), while sometimes giving starters Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love a breather.