FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots’ inactive players and what it means for others on the roster:
Shortage at linebacker. With Jeff Tarpinian (illness), Dane Fletcher (thumb) and Brandon Spikes (knee) all out, the Patriots’ depth at linebacker has been thinned. Against a Chiefs team that averages 124 rushing yards per game (10th in the NFL), linebackers in the base 4-3 defense will be watched closely. Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich are two starters, with Gary Guyton and Tracy White top possibilities to fill the third role.
Cannon dresses for first time. Rookie offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who was promoted off the reserve/non-football injury list on Tuesday, dresses for his first NFL game. The Patriots enter this game with eight offensive linemen – one more than the norm on game-day – with Nate Solder (tackle), Cannon (tackle/guard) and Ryan Wendell (center/guard) the top reserves, assuming Wendell doesn’t start in place of Dan Connolly (groin).
McCourty out, Molden likely in. With starting left cornerback Devin McCourty out with a shoulder injury, as expected, his replacement is likely to be Antwaun Molden. This would be Molden’s first career start in his four-year NFL career. The Patriots are thin at corner, with Phillip Adams recently serving as the nickel corner. This could lead to receiver Julian Edelman playing more in the slot, as we saw at the end of last Sunday’s win over the Jets.
Vereen in the fold. With veteran running back Kevin Faulk out, it opens a spot for rookie Shane Vereen on the 46-man game-day roster. Vereen adds depth behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley, which is important with Green-Ellis battling a toe injury.
Safety group thin again. With Patrick Chung out with a foot injury, the Patriots are once again thin at safety. Last week, it was James Ihedigbo and Sterling Moore getting the start, and that figures to be the case once again. The promotion of Ross Ventrone from the practice squad adds depth, as Sergio Brown has fallen out of favor of late.
Price active at receiver. Second-year receiver Taylor Price, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury in recent weeks, is on the 46-man game-day roster. Prior to the Giants game, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had talked about his hopes in getting Price more playing time, so we’ll see if that manifests itself tonight.