Players unlikely to play; what it means

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tonight's preseason opener figures to have a heavy emphasis on developmental players. When asked earlier this week if veterans might play more than a normal load because of the lockout, Bill Belichick said, "Probably not this week."

That was a tip-off that Belichick doesn't plan to push things after the club has had seven full-pad practices, four shorts/light shoulder pad practices, and four walkthroughs (one with light shoulder pads).

Belichick also said it's unlikely that players who didn't practice this week would play. With that in mind, here are some of the players not expected to suit up tonight, and the trickle-down effect:

1. DT Albert Haynesworth -- Instead of seeing a pairing of Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork, second-year player Kyle Love steps in. If Wilfork is kept out, a pairing of Love and 2010 seventh-round draft pick Kade Weston likely gets the call playing a defensive tackle in a four-man line.

2. DT Mike Wright -- Similar to Haynesworth.

3. LB Brandon Spikes -- He's worked at middle linebacker, a role that figures to be assumed by second-year player Dane Fletcher tonight.

4. RB Shane Vereen -- Second-round pick pulled up in his second practice and hasn't practiced since. Third-rounder Stevan Ridley should get a lot of work in his place.

5. CB Ras-I Dowling -- Second-round pick pulled up after one practice and has been sidelined since. Look for Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington to play more in what has been a good competition in camp for the nickel cornerback spot.

6. LT Matt Light -- Veteran remains on the active/physically unable to perform list. This means extended work for rookie Nate Solder.

7. RG Dan Connolly -- Returning starter injured his right elbow in practice earlier this week, opening the door for third-year man Rich Ohrnberger to slide in with the top group. The Patriots are thin along the interior o-line, with Ryan Wendell and Chris Morris not expected to play.

8. DE Shaun Ellis -- Remains on the active/physically unable to perform list.

9. WR Brandon Tate -- Has been out of practice, opening the door for second-year receiver Taylor Price to take more reps.

10. S James Sanders -- After opening camp on active/NFI list, elder statesman of the secondary has only practiced three times and has been out of action since Aug 5. Look for Bret Lockett and Sergio Brown to see the bulk of the playing time at safety.

11. RB Kevin Faulk -- Longest-tenured Patriot remains on the active/physically unable to perform list.

12. DT Ron Brace -- Former second-round pick has had another disappointing start to his season, opening camp on the active/physically unable to perform list and not having practiced at a position where the team has stocked up on other players.

Others not expected to play tonight: RB Eric Kettani, OL Marcus Cannon, DL Brandon Deaderick, LB/S Josh Barrett