|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||09.30.12 at 10:03 am ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s are expected for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff between the Patriots and Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Winds should be light out of the northeast between 5-10 mph. Showers are expected to taper off about an hour before kickoff, with an 80 percent chance of rain about an hour into the game.
The Patriots have already ruled out six players, including Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins. The offensive lineman will miss the game with a hip injury that caused him to miss practice all week. Mankins was left behind in New England and did not make the trip to Western New York with the team.
To provide insurance along the offensive line with Mankins out, the Patriots brought back Matt Tennant, signing the free agent on Saturday. Tennant, 25, was originally claimed off waivers by the Patriots from New Orleans on Sept. 1 and was released on Sept. 4, 2012. He is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Saints. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Boston College. He has played in 28 NFL games as the Saints primary backup at center and guard. Last season, he played in 12 regular season games and both postseason games. Tennant was released by the Saints on Aug. 31, 2012. Tennant will wear No. 69.
Donald Thomas, Marcus Cannon Nick McDonald and Tennant are the options for the Patriots to fill the void left by Mankins, with Dan Connolly possibly shifting to left guard and Thomas filling in at right guard, something Thomas did often in training camp and preseason. Cannon played guard in college before the Patriots moved him to right tackle.
Also out are wide receiver Julian Edelman (left hand), defensive linemen Justin Francis (ankle) and Brandon Deaderick (ankle), defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle).
As a result, the Patriots will need to scratch just one more player 90 minutes before kickoff. After making his debut last Sunday night, tight end Kellen Winslow was released for what Bill Belichick said was “personal reasons.” As a result, the Patriots head into today’s game with just three active tight ends.
One of those tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, is nursing a hip injury that showed up on Friday’s injury report as questionable but is expected to play.
For the Bills, running backs Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) are listed as questionable for the game. Jackson missed the last two weeks with a knee injury while Spiller injured his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win in Cleveland.
Jackson has been cleared to play and Spiller is expected to play, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
The Bills will be looking to beat the Patriots in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
After last week’s debacle with the replacement officials in Baltimore, this week marks the first weekend back with the regular officials. John Parry will be the lead referee, wearing No. 132. The 47-year-old Parry has 12 years of NFL officiating experience and has been a referee since 2007. He is familiar with the Patriots, having served as the referee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
Parry will be joined Dan Ferrell (umpire), Derick Bowers (head linesman), Rusty Baynes (line judge), Scott Edwards (field judge), Ron Torbert (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
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