Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden could see a lot of action for the Patriots against the Cleveland Browns. Follow here for live updates.
A win on Sunday could vault the Patriots firmly into the AFC playoff picture and perhaps even spark hopes of stealing back the AFC East division title.
But the Cleveland Browns, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett and streaky quarterback Baker Mayfield, will be a tough out even at Gillette Stadium.
Both teams come into the game with 5-4 records. Only one can leave with six wins.
Follow Boston.com’s live game-day blog for updates on the score and important moments in today’s crucial AFC matchup.
11:35 a.m.: The Patriots will officially have Rhamondre Stevenson, Trent Brown and J.J. Taylor in action today after all three stayed off the team’s inactive list.
Stevenson has officially been cleared to play after being in the league’s concussion protocol this week and should see a lot of burn with Damien Harris out. J.J. Taylor could also see a small role in the backfield and could take over for Gunner Olszewski (inactive) on punt returns.
One key absence for New England: tight end Jonnu Smith. The versatile tight end was a late addition to the injury report this week (shoulder). He probably would have played a role carrying the ball with Harris out, so this could be a blow.
On the other hand, Devin Asiasi will be active for the first time this year alongside Hunter Henry. Matt LaCosse (practice squad elevation) will see some burn at tight end as well.
Brown will play for the first time since Week 1 and could take over his old spot at right tackle.
11:23 a.m.: Damien Harris (concussion) and Nick Chubb (COVID-19) won’t suit up for the Patriots and Browns, respectively, this afternoon. That sets up a battle of the backup running backs on Sunday with Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden, and D’Ernest Johnson all in line to get significant workloads for their teams.
Stevenson has rebounded strongly from an unfortunate start to the season and even had his best game of the year last week against the Panthers before bowing out with a head injury. But the rookie reportedly cleared concussion protocol Saturday and is expected to play against the Browns.
The fourth-round pick would likely be the team’s early-down back with Bolden filling in on passing downs.
Johnson, meanwhile, has already had a huge game this season in relief of Chubb and Kareem Hunt (IR), going off for 168 total yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
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