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Projecting Patriots inactive players

Game day is here. Finally.

Two AFC titans clash when the Patriots host the Texans on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

Before the game starts, each team will have to deactivate seven players. Here's a shot at projecting the Patriots' Week 14 inactives:

Tight end Rob Gronkowski

Reason: Health

Quick-hit: Gronk has already been declared out for the game as he continues to recover from a broken forearm.

Guard Dan Connolly

Reason: Health

Quick-hit: Though the Patriots look likely to return Logan Mankins to the lineup, starting counterpart Dan Connolly could be held out with a back issue that took him out of last Sunday's game in Miami in the first quarter.

Defensive back Derrick Martin

Reason: Depth

Quick-hit: The veteran was inactive last week, and with the secondary getting healthy and playing well in recent weeks, look for Martin to sit again.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe

Reason: Depth

Quick-hit: Perhaps a surprise sit last week, the Patriots could opt to go with just two tight ends (plus Michael Hoomanawanui, who has become basically a fullback) again and sit Shiancoe. It also wouldn't be a surprise to see Shiancoe play and Daniel Fells sit.

Offensive lineman Markus Zusevics

Reason: Depth

Quick-hit: Sebastian Vollmer was a game-time decision last week, but should be further along as he deals with back and knee issues. Zusevics could be the odd man out along the offensive line.

Defensive end Justin Francis

Reason: Depth

Quick-hit: With Chandler Jones looking ready to return, the Patriots may opt to trim their defensive end depth chart by one player from last week's list. With Jake Bequette being used inside on some sub-defense situations, Francis could be the rookie who sits.

Running back James Develin

Reason: Depth

Quick-hit: It looks likely that rookie running back Brandon Bolden will be activated to the 53-man roster on Monday, and he could be called upon to step back into the lineup right away. That probably would mean Develin, signed to the 53-man roster prior to Week 13, would sit once again.