The Patriots will have one of their most dynamic offensive skill position players available to them against the 49ers on Sunday: For the first time in 2016, running back Dion Lewis will be in uniform.
It's been a long time since Lewis has taken the field for the Patriots in a competitive situation. He tore his ACL in Week 9 of last season and was on track to begin training camp with the team last summer, but he suffered a setback in the form of a patella fracture that landed him on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. Lewis returned to practice for the first time on Oct. 27, and since then coach Bill Belichick has indicated that the Patriots would take a cautious approach with the back.
Lewis was activated to the 53-man roster before last weekend's game with the Seahawks, but he was not on the 46-man game-day roster. The Patriots will have Lewis, James White, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden in uniform for Sunday's game against San Francisco.
Two more Patriots will be making their debuts in Santa Clara: tight end Matt Lengel and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Lengel gets the nod with Rob Gronkowski out, as expected, with a chest injury. Lengel, who was a member of the Northeastern football team before it disbanded, was acquired during the bye week when he was signed off of the Bengals practice squad. Van Noy will be in uniform for the first time since the Patriots traded for him last month.
Patriots corner Justin Coleman has been listed as inactive, making him the odd man out in the team's seemingly open cornerback competition this week. Last week, Eric Rowe watched from the press level as one of the club's seven inactives. He was taken aback by that decision, but he'll be in uniform today and have a chance to establish himself as one of the team's top three corners moving forward. Rookie corner and returner Cyrus Jones, who fumbled one kick return last week, will be active once again, giving the Patriots five corners -- including Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Jonathan Jones -- on their sidelines Sunday.
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard will be inactive as he did not travel with the Patriots to the West Coast. Here's the complete list of Patriots inactives for Sunday.