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Patriots-Dolphins Inactives: What It Means For Sunday’s Week Eighteen Showdown

The Pats list five inactives, as do the Dolphins for Sunday’s Week Eighteen matchup at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The New England Patriots are set to close out the 2021 regular season with a Week Eighteen showdown with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, January 9, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

With just under an hour until kickoff, the Patriots and Dolphins have released their lists of Inactives:

Patriots Inactives:

OLB Dont’a Hightower

FS Kyle Dugger

QB Jarrett Stidham

RB J.J. Taylor

TE Devin Asiasi

As expected, linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and safety Kyle Dugger (hand) are inactive for Week Eighteen.

WR N’Keal Harry and CB Joejuan Williams are both active, indicating that the Pats are planning to use the pair of 2019 draft picks in their respective roles on Sunday. Harry should see notable snaps as a run blocker and occasional pass-catching target. Williams, on the other hand, is likely to occasionally align at outside corner, opposite J.C. Jackson. As a result, Jalen Mills may see some time in the slot, in the absence of cornerback Myles Bryant, who remains on COVID-19/Reserve.

Cornerback Shaun Wade was ruled out on Sunday morning, with the team citing ‘illness’ as the reason for his absence. With Wade not being listed as inactive, it is probable that the rookie defensive back may land on COVID-19/Reserve.

Behind Enemy Lines: Dolphins Inactives

WR Preston Williams

RB Salvon Ahmed

DE Darius Hodge

OLB Vince Biegel

TE Hunter Long

Williams and Ahmed are among the notables to be absent for Miami’s lineup on Sunday. Ahmed’s inactivity is a bit surprising, given his dual-threat capabilities. In 2020’s December matchup between the two teams, Ahmed totaled 122 yards and scored a 2-point conversion on a trick play. However, with Duke Johnson, Myles Gaskin and Phillip Lindsay running the ball well for Miami, Ahmed was the odd man out for Week Eighteen.

Former Boston College tight end Hunter Long is also among the inactives for Miami on Sunday. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Long’s potential on Friday, and offered the following:

“He’s getting more and more opportunity here recently, so yeah. We have noticed him. We saw a little bit of him during preseason. He wasn’t a big factor in the game, but I think he starting to factor in a little more in their offense. They’ve used him more. I’d say there’s a little more variety in what he’s doing, so he’s, obviously, gained the trust of Coach [George] Godsey and the offensive staff. George coached the tight ends when he was here, so I know George has a real good appreciation and understanding for that position. I’m sure that they like the future of him. He’s got a couple of pretty good players in front of him, with [Durham] Smyth and [Mike] Gesicki. It’s probably not real easy to get playing time over there and they don’t use a lot of 13-personnel like Cleveland did. They’re more of a 11 team, but they’ve really become more of a 12 team. They probably use more 12-personnel than any other team in the league. Some of that’s probably been their wide receiver injuries, but it’s been productive for them and he’s starting to work his way in there. I think this is a guy that, down the road, we’re going to see a lot more playing time from him. Rookie year is tough for everybody, especially when you have good players ahead of you with Gesicki and Smyth in particular, but he’s starting to work his way in there, which is impressive.”

The Pats and Dolphins are set for kickoff at 4:25pm ET.