The Patriots will be without their starting right tackle on Sunday as Marcus Cannon has been ruled out with a calf injury. In Cannon's absence, the Patriots could use Cameron Fleming to start on the right side. Fleming took over at left tackle for Nate Solder in Week 1 when Solder missed the season-opener with a hamstring injury.
Cannon has been limited in practice since before New England's Week 4 loss to the Bills with a calf injury. He practiced on Wednesday and Friday but did not participate on Thursday when the team practiced in full padds. Cannon was clearly bothered by the injury late in the fourth quarter against the Bills but he did not miss a snap.
Other Patriots that have been ruled inactive are linebacker Shea McClellin (did not practice this week due to a concussion), running back Brandon Bolden (knee injury) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (back).
With Bolden ruled out, undrafted rookie running back DJ Foster has been activated to provide depth at that position. Valentine's absence presses another undrafted rookie, Woodrow Hamilton, into service. The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder was promoted from the practice squad at the end of the week to provide the team with some depth on the interior of the defensive line.
Healthy scratches for the Patriots on Sunday include tight end Greg Scruggs, corner Justin Coleman and corner Eric Rowe.
Scruggs was signed last weekend and could use more time before he's comfortable enough to contribute to the Patriots offense. Rowe recently came off the injury report but is also a relatively new acquisition and may need more seasoning before he suits up.
Coleman played 30 snaps last week against the Bills. In his absence, the Patriots will likely lean on rookie second-round pick Cyrus Jones to fill their No. 3 corner role.
Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season.
Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder.
Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick.
Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury.
Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad.
Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.
The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues.
Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”
Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September.
Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:
Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."