The Patriots will be without cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive back Kyle Dugger, and offensive lineman Justin Herron for Sunday’s game against the Bills in Buffalo.
On Saturday, all three players were downgraded after initially being listed as questionable. Gilmore injured his knee in practice on Thursday and did not participate in Friday’s snowy stadium session. Dugger was limited in practice all week because of an ankle injury, as was Herron.
The absences of Gilmore and Dugger will test New England’s secondary. Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was on the field for 100 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in their last three games. Dugger, a second-round pick, also has earned consistent playing time in his first NFL season.
“[Steph’s] a big key to what we do,” said fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones. “Someone we depend on in the secondary to go out week after week to do his job. But we have a lot of guys who are ready to play and ready to step up if he can’t go or whatever it might be.”
Jones, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Joejuan Williams, and Terrence Brooks should all be active for Sunday’s game. Cornerback J.C. Jackson is questionable, popping up on the injury report on Friday with a knee injury.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.