ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Trey Flowers, who leads the New England Patriots with six sacks and 19 quarterback hits, will not play in Sunday's road game against the Buffalo Bills because of an injury to his ribs, the team announced Saturday night.
Flowers had been limited all week in practice and was questionable on Friday's injury report after injuring his ribs late in the third quarter of last Sunday's win over the Dolphins. But when he didn't travel with the team to Western New York, he was officially downgraded to out by the club.
The 2015 fourth-round draft choice out of Arkansas has been an ironman for the Patriots, playing 88.2 percent of the defensive snaps in the team's 9-2 start. The Patriots have been thin at defensive end all season, which has forced Flowers, in part, to play such a large role.
Flowers' 45 tackles rank fourth on the team, and his long arms have helped him deflect three passes while also forcing two fumbles.
In his absence, 2017 fourth-round pick Deatrich Wise Jr. and first-year player Eric Lee -- who was signed off the Bills' practice squad on Nov. 21 -- could be tapped for larger roles. Geneo Grissom, who was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, adds a layer of depth as well.
The Patriots also use their linebackers at the end of the line of scrimmage depending on what scheme they play, so Kyle Van Noy (questionable, calf) would factor into that mix.
In addition, the Patriots also ruled out core special-teams player Trevor Reilly, who suffered a concussion in the game against the Dolphins.