Patriots second-year safety Kyle Dugger is on the COVID list and it seems unlikely he will be able to play Monday night in Buffalo (if unvaccinated he needs to produce two negative tests more than 24 hours apart).
This means the Patriots will need to find a way to replace their leading tackler on the year (80 tackles). Dugger is obviously a unique player as he’s a safety, but spends a lot of time in the box playing a hybrid linebacker role.
So, how will the Patriots look to replace a player who has played more than 71% of the snaps in every game this season?
Adrian Phillips plays a role similar to his, but the only issue is he plays a lot, too. Phillps has been on the field for 80% of the snaps, so while he will likely play a little bit more, the Patriots will need more.
It’s likely versatile defensive back Myles Bryant, who has played more of late, will be shifted into more of a safety role, something he was asked about Thursday.
“I think I'm pretty comfortable,” he said when asked about playing safety.
If he does play more of a safety role, the Patriots will then need a little more help at cornerback. That means Joejuan Williams and Shaun Wade could see more playing time. It also likely means at least one elevation of a defensive back from the practice squad. Options there include Sean Davis and D’Angelo Ross.
Also, rookie Joshuah Bledsoe, who started the year on NFI, has begun practicing and is eligible to start playing. He would need to be activated to the roster, though. This seems unlikely.
No matter who sees more playing time, they will have their work out out for them as Buffalo has a number of playmakers in the passing game.
Stefon Diggs gets all the attention, but the Bills also have Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Dawson Knox. Knox might be the most interesting as it relates to Dugger’s absence as he’s done a great job against opposing tight ends the last few weeks.
It should be interesting what the Patriots do, but expect Bill Belichick and Co. to come up with something creative.
Thanks to MacFarlane Energy, your Mitsubishi Diamond Elite contractor, where they can very affordably heat your three-season room with a Mitsubishi ductless hyper heat unit. Please visit MacFarlaneEnergy.com.