FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have carried four pure wide receivers on the 53-man roster for the duration of the season, which is one lighter than the norm. Up until Sunday, it hasn't been an issue.
Now it is.
How the Patriots proceed at the position following No. 4 receiver Danny Amendola's ankle injury is a pressing personnel question leading into Monday night's game against the visiting Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET). Amendola's injury, which came on a punt return -- he was called upon to replace struggling rookie Cyrus Jones -- comes at a difficult time for the Patriots, who are adjusting on offense without tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The No. 4 receiver was a significant part of the team's first game plan after Gronkowski underwent season-ending back surgery Friday; the Patriots (10-2) ran a season-high nine snaps out of the four-receiver grouping in their victory over the Rams.
Amendola played 19 snaps on offense prior to his injury, mixing into the three-receiver package at times.
With Amendola not expected to be available Monday, the Patriots could be forced into a move at the position. It would be risky to have just three healthy receivers -- Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell -- on the 46-man game-day roster. Special-teams captain Matthew Slater could potentially spell the top receivers for a few snaps, but there's also no guarantee as he is recovering from a left foot injury.
The two in-house candidates to possibly fill Amendola's role are DeAndrew White, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers in 2015, and rookie Devin Lucien, the 2016 seventh-round pick from Arizona State. Both are currently on the practice squad.
"I think they've made good progress," coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. "They both have been consistent. They've been out there every day. They work hard. They've made plays for us in practice on the scout team against our defense."
If it's not White or Lucien, there are some familiar faces available in free agency, as Doug Kyed of NESN.com detailed.