<
>

Analysis from Pats' inactive players

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Analysis from the Patriots' inactive players today:

1. Sergio Brown has slipped down the safety depth chart, but his deactivation is still a surprise with Josh Barrett (hamstring) also out at safety. Brown was listed on Friday with a chest injury (questionable). The Patriots have Patrick Chung and James Ihedigbo as the projected starters (same as last week), with Ross Ventrone the next man in. The Patriots might have to dip into the cornerback ranks for safety help in the event of an emergency. [Updated: 3:30 p.m.]

2. Running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe) and Danny Woodhead (ankle) are both active. They were questionable on the injury report. So the Patriots enter with their top four backs -- Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

3. Signs were pointing to offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer playing after he was back at practice all week, but he ended up not passing the physical test. That's significant when going up against a solid outside linebacker tandem of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, and thrusts rookie Nate Solder into the fire once again at right tackle. Big test. If the Patriots were forced into a situation where they needed a third tackle, Donald Thomas or Logan Mankins look like top options.

4. Rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling (hip) dressed last week but didn't play. With the bye next week, this gives him two weeks to work toward a return to health, and might explain why the team promoted cornerback Sterling Moore from the practice squad Saturday.

5. With receiver/returner Julian Edelman out, it opens the door for Wes Welker to return punts for the second straight week. Rookie running back Stevan Ridley returned kickoffs last week, and could be tapped for that role again.

6. While linebacker Jerod Mayo returned to practice Friday, he was considered a longshot to play today. This does position him to possibly return against the Steelers on Oct. 30, post-bye.