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A closer look at the Patriots inactives for Sunday

10.30.11 at 2:57 pm ET

The Patriots announced Sunday afternoon that the following players will be inactive for New England’s game against the Steelers: running back Shane Vereen, linebacker Dane Fletcher, safety Josh Barrett, quarterback Ryan Mallett, wide receiver Julian Edelman, outside linebacker/defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and offensive lineman Donald Thomas.

When it comes to the inactives, it was a bit of a surprise to see Cunningham and Edelman as healthy scratches. The inactivation of Edelman will likely mean that second-year wide receiver Taylor Price will see more snaps at the wide receiver position. And with Edelman having handled the majority of kick and punt returns this season, look for Stevan Ridley as the kick returner and Wes Welker as the punt returner against the Steelers.

As for the rest of the inactives, Fletcher and Barrett had been fighting through thumb injuries, and were both downgraded Saturday night. Mallett and Vereen have spent most of the season as inactives, while the deactivation of Thomas is a signal that the Patriots feel good about the health of Sebastian Vollmer, who hadn’t dressed for five of the first six games of the season because of a back problem.

As for the guys who are playing, this will be the first start since Week 4 for Jerod Mayo, who injured his knee in the win over the Raiders but hadn’t been seen since. And this week also marks the return of Vollmer, who had been out for an extended stretch. In addition, Kevin Faulk and Brandon Deaderick — who have been on the physically unable to perform list to this point in the season — will dress for the first time in 2011.

Read More: Brandon Deaderick, Dane Fletcher, Donald Thomas, Jermaine Cunningham



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