DENVER — Tight end Martellus Bennett has made the trip with the New England Patriots for Sunday night’s game against the Denver Broncos, which leaves open the possibility that he could play.
If he does, how will that affect the team’s seven-player inactive list?
This is what Patriots coaches have likely been discussing over the past 36 to 48 hours since Bennett was claimed on waivers from the Green Bay Packers, as some challenging decisions would have to be made, with special teams always a strong consideration.
The Patriots have already ruled out three starters due to injuries: receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder), defensive tackle Malcom Brown
That leaves four more spots to account for, and the first place to look is the rest of the injury report: receiver Danny Amendola (knee), defensive end Cassius Marsh (shoulder), and cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin).
Amendola expects to play, as does Gilmore. Marsh has been playing through his shoulder injury, so it makes sense to think he will still be available coming off the bye.
Perhaps Bennett’s possible return could lead the team to give Rowe, who has made the trip to Denver, another week to heal. If that’s the case, three more players would need to be deactivated.
Rookie offensive lineman Cole Croston, who has been inactive for all eight games, should fill one of those spots. And if Bennett is active, it would likely mean another tight end — Dwayne Allen or Jacob Hollister — would be inactive.
That would leave one more spot to account for, with defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, running back Mike Gillislee and linebacker David Harris among those who could be challenged for a spot.
The domino effect of possibly adding Bennett to the active roster leads off this week’s “final walk-through” for the Patriots-Broncos game.
(ankle) and right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle).