The health news isn't as good as the Buffalo Bills hoped ahead of tonight's game with the New England Patriots.
While they do expect offensive tackle Spencer Brown and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to play after missing time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, they were forced on Monday to add valuable third linebacker A.J. Klein to the Reserve/COVID-19 list and decided to keep left guard Jon Feliciano (calf) on the injured reserve list for at least one more game despite his return to practice last week.
Ike Boettger is expected to get the start in Feliciano's place.
That's not a surprise.
Here's what is: Their decision to deactivate both returners, Isaiah McKenzie and Marquez Stevenson.
With snow and heavy winds swirling in Highmark Stadium, perhaps their thinking is that they don't want to try anything fancy on returns. McKenzie had lost his job to Stevenson before the team's last game, then Stevenson muffed one of his punt returns during his debut, although he was able to recover.
How much the Bills had planned to play Klein tonight was unclear because they rarely get out of their base nickel package, which features just two linebackers (Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano) and an extra defensive back (usually slot corner Taron Johnson). But the Patriots do like to challenge opponents with a strong running game, so not having Klein could force the Bills to make adjustments to their game plan.
Lotulelei has missed the last three games and Brown the last two while recovering from COVID-19 infections.
Not surprisingly, the Bills have responded by elevating defensive tackle Eli Ankou and linebacker Joe Giles-Harris from the practice squad for tonight's game.