HOUSTON — The Patriots announced Saturday that cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has been downgraded to out Sunday against Houston.
Dennard underwent a knee procedure during the time of New England’s bye.
He was not expected to be in uniform against the Broncos a week ago. Although he played, was unable to finish the game.
Dennard was limited in practice Wednesday and Friday, but according to the Patriots, he did not practice Thursday.
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot), RT Marcus Cannon (ankle) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui were also declared out Sunday.
Several other members of the Patriots’ secondary are questionable: CBs Aqib Talib (hip), Kyle Arrington (groin), Marquice Cole (shin), and safety Steve Gregory (finger). Gregory broke his thumb against the Steelers and has not played since, though he has been practicing.
Also questionable: tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has back, forearm, and hamstring injuries.
Will Svitek ready
With Cannon already declared out, the job of Patriots starting right tackle against Houston more than likely will fall to Will Svitek.
Svitek stepped in when Cannon left last Sunday night’s game with an ankle injury, and will be the third player to start at the position this season — Sebastian Vollmer went on injured reserve after the Dolphins game with a broken leg, and Cannon started when Vollmer went out.
An eight-year veteran signed as a free agent in the offseason, Svitek started during his days with the Falcons and Chiefs.
“It was definitely good to be playing,’’ Svitek said Friday. “I missed last year [with Atlanta] with a triceps injury, so it’s fun to be back out there playing.
“You never want anybody to go down, but it was a big game, so it was fun to be out there with the guys and most importantly get a W and help the team win. I try to prepare every game like I’m a starter, because you never know if you’re going to be playing two snaps or if you’ll be playing 80 snaps, like I was the other day.”
Bill Belichick has had good things to say about the 31-year-old Svitek, who was born in the Czech Republic, since he arrived in Foxborough, and it was no different last week.
“Will’s got a lot of experience. He’s a dependable player. He was with us all spring, all training camp, had a good preseason,” the Patriots coach said. “He has a real good understanding of what we do.’’
The last time the Patriots played at Reliant Stadium, in 2009, it became a memorable game for all the wrong reasons: Not only did New England lose, Wes Welker tore his ACL.
Days later, Belichick blamed the grass surface for Welker’s injury, saying it was “terrible” and “inconsistent.”
Though it is natural grass, the field is comprised of 8-foot-by 8-foot turf pallets, which are rotated outdoors on non-game days or for events that don’t require grass, and so they can be exposed to the sunshine and elements and be cared for.
Belichick was much kinder during the week when talking about the Reliant grass.
“That was a long time ago so I’m sure there’s been plenty of new grass and maintenance and upkeep since then,” he said.
“We’ll do what we usually do when we play on the road: talk to teams that have played there before in order to at least have the proper footwear options.”
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.