UPDATE (Sunday 3:00 ET): The Patriots have released their list of inactives:
It's official: No Gronkowski today. Also inactive: Matthew Slater, Tavon Wilson, Leon Washington, Chris Barker, Josh Boyce, Tommy Kelly.— Michael Whitmer (@GlobeWhitmer) October 13, 2013
The only player on this list I didn't name was WR Josh Boyce; the Patriots are giving the nod to recently-signed veteran WR Austin Collie instead.
Healthwise, things seem to be moving in the right direction, with just 13 players listed, down from 14 last week (and down from 16 on Thursday). (As a Patriots fan, I have to say it's nice that I only need two tables this week—one for offense and one for defense.)
The Patriots are currently at 53 players, so they will need to deactivate seven players. Let's take a look at the likely candidates.
The good news on offense is that there's only one new name on the list, center Ryan Wendell. Wendell, has been listed with a concussion all week, but has not missed any practices.
The better news is that several players who were on the list last week—offensive tackles Will Svitek and Sebastian Vollmer, and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins—are not on the list this week.
The best news is that RB Stevan Ridley, who missed last week with a knee injury, is listed as questionable against the Saints. Given another day or two to rest, there's a good chance he'll be playing this week.
The bad news is that RB Leon Washington is still unable to play; he missed all practices this week and was downgraded to out.
The worse news, of course, is that Rob Gronkowski is still only questionable. According to WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia, among other sources, the Patriots are asking orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews to act as an independent arbiter of whether Gronkowski is ready to play.
A number of sources, including ESPN.com, state that Andrews has not cleared Gronkowski, and he is not expected to play on Sunday.
Tommy Kelly's knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons sidelined him all week, leading the Patriots to sign veteran DL Andre Neblett as at least a short-term replacement, rather than promote a practice-squad player. Kelly was downgraded to out.
Other than Kelly, though, the defense is largely healthy, and several players on the injury list last week, including CB Kyle Arrington and S Nate Ebner, are off the list entirely.
Likewise, Marquice Cole, whose injuries prompted a short-term release from the team, was not on the injury list at all this week. The only player listed as questionable (a 50-50 chance to play) is S Tavon Wilson, who was inactive last week.
Based on the information reported so far, I expect that six of the Patriots' seven inactives this week will be:
- DT Tommy Kelly (confirmed)
- ST Matthew Slater
- RB Leon Washington (confirmed)
- S Tavon Wilson
- LB Steve Beauharnais (healthy scratch)
- OL Chris Barker (healthy scratch)
I predict the Patriots will have Wendell active, but they will not start him, and will not play him if they can avoid doing so, instead moving OL Dan Connolly to center and Marcus Cannon to guard.
As for the seventh inactive, right now, I give Gronkowski a bit less than a 50 percent chance to play. While, as noted above, Dr. Andrews has not cleared Gronkowski yet, that does not mean he cannot be cleared before Sunday.
If Gronkowski is cleared, he will be active; if not, then I suspect the Patriots will activate WR Austin Collie, a healthy scratch in Week 5, in his stead.