Analysis of tonight's Patriots inactives

The following players are inactive tonight. As expected, receiver Wes Welker is active for the game:

OL Dan Connolly

WR Julian Edelman

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis

OL Rich Ohrnberger

DL Myron Pryor

OL Kendall Simmons

S Matthew Slater

CB Terrence Wheatley

With rookie WR Julian Edelman not dressed (ankle), it creates a void at punt returner. Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk and Patrick Chung are other options on the roster to fill that spot. It also bumps Sam Aiken to the definitive No. 4 spot on the receiver depth chart.

With second-year RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis a healthy scratch, the Patriots go with four backs -- Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris. Green-Ellis is fourth or fifth on the depth chart, and the Patriots probably had special teams in mind in choosing someone like safety Bret Lockett for a roster spot over Green-Ellis.

With rookie DL Myron Pryor out (calf), the Patriots are without a player who showed some nice inside pass-rush moves in the preseason. That leaves five linemen active -- Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green, Mike Wright and Ron Brace. This could be an indication that a 3-4 alignment will be more prevalent tonight.

With CB Terrence Wheatley held out because of a knee injury, the Patriots have just four corners -- Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, Jonathan Wilhite and Darius Butler. Springs didn't play much in the preseason, so his conditioning will be an area to watch. Also, the Bills have implemented the no-huddle, which could add to the importance of conditioning.

With interior offensive linemen Dan Connolly (back injury), Rich Ohrnberger (healthy scratch) and Kendall Simmons (healthy scratch) out, the Patriots have first-year player Ryan Wendell as their top interior backup. Rookie Sebastian Vollmer is the swing tackle.

With safety Matthew Slater out with an arm injury, the Patriots are without one of their best special teams coverage players. Safety Bret Lockett, who was claimed on waivers from the Browns when teams were formulating their 53-man rosters, will be counted upon to fill that void.