Pro Bowlers out: Hightower, Slater inactive for matchup with Jets


Pro Bowlers out: Hightower, Slater inactive for matchup with Jets

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will be without two of their captains when they kick off with the Jets on Christmas Eve.

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and special teamer Matthew Slater (foot) -- both recently named to the Pro Bowl -- have been ruled inactive for Saturday's divisional matchup. Both were questionable coming into the game. Though the Patriots did not practice on Friday, they did release an injury report estimating the participation level of injured players had they worked out. Both Slater and Hightower were listed as "limited."


With Hightower out, the Patriots should continue to use linebacker Kyle Van Noy in a prominent role. Van Noy will also probably be expected to relay the calls from defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on the sideline. Linebackers Shea McClellin and Elandon Roberts could be in line to see an increased workload with Hightower unavailable. 

Slater is one of the team's top kick-coverage players, but the Patriots have received strong play in that regard from rookie Jonathan Jones and second-year man Brandon King. With Slater out, King could be the choice to serve as one of the gunners opposite Jones in punt coverage. 

Corner Justin Coleman is inactive, but rookie second-round pick Cyrus Jones will be in uniform. Jones was inactive last week against the Broncos but will be available as a depth option at corner. The Alabama product could also see reps as a punt-returner despite the difficulty he's had there throughout this season. Julian Edelman filled in that role last week. 

Newly-acquire Patriots receiver Michael Floyd will be in uniform for the first time since he was claimed on waivers last week. He's not expected to have a huge role, but this will be an opportunity for the Patriots to get an in-game look at the wideout they've been trying to quickly get up to speed. 

Other Patriots inactives are running back DJ Foster, tackle LaAdrian Waddle, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and receiver Danny Amendola (ankle). 

Eric Ebron signs two-year deal with Colts

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Eric Ebron signs two-year deal with Colts

Former Lions tight end Eric Ebron is signing a two-year deal worth $15 million with the Colts, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Ebron was rumored to be a potential target for the Patriots, especially after new Pats running back Jeremy Hill tried recruiting him to the team.

The 24-year-old had 53 receptions for 574 yards and four touchdowns a season ago with Detroit. 


Patriots release Shea McClellin

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Patriots release Shea McClellin

Shea McClellin will be blocking kicks for somebody else next season. 

The Patriots announced Monday they've released the veteran linebacker, ending his tenure with the team after two seasons.  ESPN's Field Yates broke the news.

The Pats signed McClellin to a three-year deal prior to the 2016 season, but that was the only season in which he played for the team. McClellin missed all of last season due to injury. Prior to coming to New England, McClellin played four seasons with the Bears, who chose him 19th overall in 2012. 

McClellin's biggest contribution with the Pats came when he blocked a Justin Tucker kick in Week 14 of the 2016 season against the Ravens.