Sunday, September 30, 2012
Gronk active, OL Tennant out
By Field Yates
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Offensive lineman Matt Tennant, signed on Saturday, was announced as the final inactive player for the New England Patriots for their Week 4 game against the Bills, after the team had previously declared six players out.
Offering some quick-hit thoughts on the inactives.
1. Gronkowski active. As was reported previously by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, tight end Rob Gronkowski will play, despite a recent hip injury that limited him during Friday's practice. With Aaron Hernandez out and the recent release of Kellen Winslow, the Patriots are thinned down to three tight ends, and Julian Edelman's absence leaves the Patriots with four healthy wide receivers. Having Gronkowski on the field is an important consideration for the Patriots' passing attack.
2. Vereen, Bequette to debut. Running back Shane Vereen, who has dealt with a foot injury since August 24, is active for the first time this season. Considering that the Patriots are down to just seven players at the tight-end and receiver positions, carrying a fourth running back today provides the team with an additional skill player, and one who is an effective play-in-space player, similar to Edelman. What role Vereen absorbs remains to be seen, although he could be used as both a kickoff returner and change-of-pace back. Additionally, 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette is active for the first time this season. He was previously a healthy scratch as he continues to work his way up the defensive-end depth chart.
3. Seven offensive linemen suited up. The absence of Logan Mankins means the Patriots will have to re-shuffle the interior of their offensive line, and could open the door for Donald Thomas to play a starting role. Active for Sunday's game is interior lineman Nick McDonald, who offers versatility both as an interior lineman and tackle, if needed.
4. McClain to suit up days after signing. Defensive tackle Terrell McClain, added this week after the team waived rookie Marcus Forston, is active. With Kyle Love nursing a knee injury and Brandon Deaderick out, McClain could be counted on to log snaps in the interior of the Patriots' defensive line, perhaps to relieve Love and/or Vince Wilfork to keep bodies fresh. In one season with the Panthers, McClain, a 2011 third-round pick, totaled 19 tackles and one sack.