FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The following Patriots players, based on their availability in practice, aren't expected to play in tonight's preseason game against the Buccaneers:
CB Ras-I Dowling/Alfonzo Dennard -- Two of the team's top four projected players at the position, their absence has bumped Kyle Arrington into a starting role at right cornerback, with rookie Logan Ryan and five-year veteran Marquice Cole receiving more opportunities in nickel packages.
TE Daniel Fells -- Expect Jake Ballard and Zach Sudfeld to be the top combination, with Michael Hoomanawanui and Evan Landi filling out the depth chart. Rob Gronkowski, of course, remains on the active/physically unable to perform list, and we can include defensive lineman Armond Armstead and rookie receiver Mark Harrison in the same category of players who have yet to practice.
S Devin McCourty -- Starter and "glue" presence in the secondary continues to wear a red non-contact jersey in practice after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery and didn't play in the preseason opener. Always possible he could suit up since he's been practicing, but if he doesn't, an Adrian Wilson/Steve Gregory combination has been the top unit at safety, followed by Duron Harmon/Tavon Wilson, with Nate Ebner/Kanorris Davis rounding things out.
DE Jermaine Cunningham -- Has been out of practice and missed the preseason opener. Chandler Jones/Rob Ninkovich has been the first pairing at end, followed by Justin Francis/Marcus Benard and then Michael Buchanan/Jake Bequette.