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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Projecting Patriots' inactives

By Field Yates

Another week, and another game in which the Patriots look poised to have just 52 players on the active roster. That's the case as things stand now, at least, although the team may opt to promote a player from its practice squad today or sign a free agent from outside of the organization.

But keeping in mind that defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is due to return from suspension next week, it seems like a safe bet that the team will stand pat at 52, meaning just six players will have to be deactivated tomorrow in Jacksonville.

Here's a shot at projecting the inactives.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski
Reason: Health
Quick-hit: The All-Pro tight end looks close to returning after practicing each day this week, but ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton reported Friday night that Gronkowski would not play Sunday. A Week 17 return, or even a return in the first round of the playoffs, seems likely.

Defensive back Derrick Martin
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: Martin has been inactive in each game since Thanksgiving, and depth in the secondary has not been an issue of late.

Offensive lineman Markus Zusevics
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: Zusevics has yet to make his NFL debut since being activated to the 53-man roster on Thanksgiving, and with the starters along the offensive line seeming to be coming together, he probably will be the odd man out once again.

Defensive end Jake Bequette
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: With fellow rookie Justin Francis providing solid depth and burst off the edge in recent weeks, Bequette seems to be a rung below on the depth chart.

Defensive tackle Ron Brace
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: Brandon Deaderick has been a starter over the past few weeks, and has rotated with Kyle Love in a pairing with Vince Wilfork. Brace had been dealing with an elbow issue but was removed from the injury report this week.

Fullback James Develin
Reason: Depth
Quick-hit: Develin made his NFL debut last week, but that could have been tied into linebacker Tracy White's having to miss the game (Develin played on special teams against San Francisco). With White looking likely to play this week, Develin could sit once again.