Safety Kyle Dugger missed his third straight practice and, not surprisingly, was declared out for Sunday.
Dugger, who is dealing with a hand injury, is the club’s second-leading tackler (86), including a team-high 65 solos. He also is also tied for second with four interceptions. He likely would have been charged with covering Miami tight end Mike Gesicki, who has 71 receptions on the season.
With Myles Bryant still on the reserve/COVID-19 list, it’s likely the Patriots will need to elevate one or two defensive backs from the practice squad, with D’Angelo Ross and Sean Davis the most likely candidates.
Ross has been elevated the last two weeks ahead of active roster cornerbacks Joejuan Williams and Shaun Wade.
Belichick touched on Ross’s value, including an impressive series subbing for J.C. Jackson during a goal line stand against Buffalo in his season debut two weeks ago.
“D’Angelo is a really smart player,” the coach said. “On the scout team, he plays basically every position in the secondary. He has a really good understanding of what to do and techniques to do it on.
“He’s gained a lot of confidence of the coaching staff and his teammates based on his work ethic, his consistency, and dependability on a daily basis.”
Belichick said Ross’s versatility helps keep practice on schedule because of his ability to step into any situation.
“A lot of times, we get into a situation, maybe, where a player can’t practice or only practices for part of the day and we need somebody to take some reps, but you don’t want to move everybody around,” the coach said. “You go from corner to nickel. You go from safety to corner. You just put one guy in and everybody else stays the same.
“When that player returns, then everybody stays in the same spot. He does a good job of that, and as I said, a really smart player, so game-plan adjustments, even though he might not be active for the game, he knows them, he can execute them.”