ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Patriots have ruled out starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Bills.
Wynn left the regular-season finale against the Dolphins in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. He was limited in practice Wednesday before not participating Thursday and Friday. Wynn, 26, also has been dealing with a hip injury.
In Wynn’s absence, the Patriots could insert Justin Herron at left tackle and keep the rest of the offensive line the same: Ted Karras at left guard, David Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and Trent Brown at right tackle.
But they could consider shifting things around by inserting backup guard Michael Onwenu at right tackle, where he played most of last season, and moving Brown to left tackle. Onwenu started the season at left guard but has since been used primarily in sets requiring a sixth offensive lineman.
Wynn set a career high in playing time this season, logging 82.2 percent of the offense’s snaps. For the first time in his career, he finished a season without going on injured reserve. Wynn missed his rookie season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, missed eight games in 2019 with a toe injury, and missed six games in 2020 with a knee injury.
The Patriots have 12 other players listed as questionable.
Defensive tackle Christian Barmore, who was carted off the field last week following a knee injury, and safety Kyle Dugger, who did not play in the regular-season finale with a hand injury, are the two major question marks.
Cornerback Jalen Mills also remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list. His availability will be determined by his vaccination status and the date of his positive test. The Patriots placed Mills on the list Tuesday, but the timing of his test is unknown.
Four elevated to active roster
The Patriots elevated four players from the practice squad to the active roster for Saturday’s game.
Cornerbacks De’Vante Bausby and D’Angelo Ross, defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale, and wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson will be available to play.
Bausby and Ross will provide reinforcements to the secondary if Mills (COVID-19) and Dugger (hand) cannot play.
Bausby joined the practice squad at the end of October but has yet to play in a game. He appeared in 10 games for the Broncos last season, registering 20 tackles and five pass deflections. Ross was elevated for the final three games of the season, earning playing time over 2019 second-round draft pick Joejuan Williams.
Wilkerson had a breakout game in Week 17 against Jacksonville, catching four passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns. He was not active for the regular-season finale because he was out of standard practice-squad elevations, but he will be eligible for the entire postseason.
Not a tough ticket
Plenty of tickets remain available for Saturday’s game.
Fans can purchase tickets at face value from Ticketmaster for seats in the lower, club, and balcony levels. Resale tickets are selling for as low as $59, as of Friday evening.
According to Jim Holzman of Ace Ticket, demand for the game “has been down,” likely because of the weather forecast.
“It is going to be ridiculously cold and who could blame people for not going,” Holzman said. “But I’d still think there’d be enough Buffalo fans to say, ‘I don’t care if it’s 5 below, I’ve waited my whole life for Bills playoff game at home, favored against the Patriots. I’m going!’”
Back to school
Former Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch is joining the coaching staff of his alma mater.
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield announced Thursday that Branch will return to the school as director of player development.
“To have one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play at Louisville and a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player join our staff, is a great addition to our football program,” Satterfield said. “He is a recognizable name here at Louisville — one that our players can look up, too.”
The Patriots drafted Branch with a second-round pick in 2002. He spent his first four seasons in New England, winning two Super Bowls. After a four-year stint in Seattle, he returned to the Patriots via trade for three more seasons.
No Patriots earned first-team All-Pro honors, which means outside linebacker Matt Judon, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and kicker Nick Folk did not earn their contract incentives. Cornerback J.C. Jackson was named to the second team, as was special teams ace Matthew Slater . . . There have been six divisional matchups in the wild-card round over the past eight postseasons. The lower-seeded team went 5-1 in those games . . . Saturday’s officiating crew will be led by referee Brad Allen. Home teams posted a 9-7 record with Allen during the regular season. The Patriots are 6-2 all-time with Allen — 0-2 without Tom Brady — while the Bills are 5-4.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.