GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Analysis from the New England Patriots' inactive players today against the Green Bay Packers: CB Malcolm Butler, RB James White, LS Danny Aiken, LB Chris White, OL Jordan Devey, OT Cameron Fleming, DE Chandler Jones:
Backup snapper Ninkovich thrust into top role. With long-snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) not ready to go, it thrusts starting defensive end Rob Ninkovich into that spot. Ninkovich is an every-down player on defense, so this adds more to his already plentiful workload. One line of thinking was that Aiken would be good to go after the team released snapper Charley Hughlett from the practice squad Friday, so perhaps things took an unexpected turn for the worse late in the week. Aiken sustained the concussion on a personal foul penalty by Lions defensive tackle C.J. Mosley last Sunday.
Dobson adds insurance at receiver. The Patriots are dressing all five of their receivers (not including special-teams ace Matthew Slater), which means Aaron Dobson is active for just the fourth time this season. Dobson provides an added layer of insurance at the position as starter Brandon LaFell is playing through a shoulder injury.
Dennard in the mix once again. Third-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is active for the second straight week, getting the nod over rookie Malcolm Butler. Dennard played sparingly last week as the No. 5 option on the depth chart. Perhaps he ups his level of participation this week.
Connolly, Vereen, LaFell all cleared. Three of the team's more notable injury situations to monitor this week -- starting left guard Dan Connolly (ankle), running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and receiver LaFell (shoulder) -- all made the cut. Connolly's status, in particular, is notable as the Patriots are going with the standard seven linemen on game day. That reflects they feel good about Connolly's ankle.
No surprise on Jones. While Chandler Jones made the trip -- his first since injuring his hip Oct. 16 against the Jets -- the expectation was that he wouldn't play today. But he'll continue with the team to San Diego immediately after the game and thus puts himself into the mix to make his return Dec. 7 against the Chargers.
Following up on Don Jones release. With the inactive players announced, it now provides some more clarity on the team's decision to release Don Jones on Thursday. Jones likely wouldn't have been active today, so it appears the Patriots were trying to slide him through to the practice squad as part of a roster management move (but the Dolphins claimed him). The Patriots needed the roster spot to address other short-term needs, specifically for linebacker Darius Fleming to replace injured Chris White (ankle) as a core special-teamer.
Accountability check. Our predictions resulted in a 4 for 7 success rate this week.