Will Patriots Trade Inactivity Pay Dividends vs. Colts?

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After spending the previous few days on the trading block, this trio of Patriots may look to pounce upon their respective second chances.

FOXBORO — With the image of the 2022 trade deadline no longer visible in their rearview mirror, the New England Patriots are turning their attention to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Pats will welcome the Colts to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff this Sunday. Currently sitting at 4-4, New England will be looking to climb above .500 for the first time this season with a win.

At first glance, the Patriots would appear to have the upper hand. Indianapolis (3-4-1) has lost two straight, fresh off of dropping their Week 8 contest to the Washington Commanders. Due to their collective struggles through the season, they have benched former starting quarterback Matt Ryan in favor of Sam Elingher. They also dealt away running back Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills at Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Still, it should be noted that Indianapolis defeated the Pats 27-17 in Week 15 of the 2021 season; and did so with many of the same pieces in place. As the Pats begin their preparations for this weekend’s game against the Colts, let’s take a look at how three Pats who were on the block can help the team earn their fifth victory in 2022.

Damien Harris

Despite reports that the Patriots had received calls regarding his availability, Harris apparently was never in danger of being moved. New England should benefit from his presence in Week 9, against a mid-level Colts’ run defense. The Alabama product is still putting up respectable numbers, earning 302 yards on 71 carries with three touchdowns. However, he has clearly been supplanted by Rhamondre Stevenson as New England’s feature back.

Having missed last season’s matchup due to a hamstring injury, New England managed only 81 cumulative yards on the ground in the loss. Harris can be a strong complement to Stevenson as the team looks to increase its productivity on the ground. When given the space to maneuver, the Alabama product is capable of breaking for significant yardage. He can also be a factor when receiving out of the backfield, a trait which he exhibited during his days at Alabama. Should Indianapolis’ defense put the majority of their efforts into containing Stevenson, Harris may see additional touches and increased productivity.

Isaiah Wynn

A quick glance through an average Patriots fan’s social media feed will confirm that many within the region were hoping to see Wynn unloaded by the end of the day on Tuesday. Not only would his struggles have become a part of New England’s past, but trading him would have cleared the remainder of his $10.4 million off the Patriots’ salary cap. Still, the Pats depth at tackle was too thin to consider parting ways with the former first-rounder; choosing positional stability over financial flexibility.

As a result, Wynn is likely to be in the mix to start at right tackle on Sunday. Despite his struggles in pass protection, the ex-Georgia Bulldog is still capable of providing the type of run blocking which has caused problems for reserve tackle Marcus Cannon. He also spelled rookie Cole Strange at left guard in the second half of the Pats’ Week 8 victory over the New York Jets. Wynn was spotted taking some practice reps on Wednesday at guard. It is possible that the team may consider using Wynn at guard to help strengthen a line which will need their best effort to contain Indianapolis’ strong defensive front.

Kendrick Bourne

Though the Patriots performance last season against the Colts may be best described as dismal, Bourne was one of the lone bright spots. He took 48 offensive snaps for New England, catching all three of his targets for 44 yards, including a clutch 18-yard gain during the Pats’ second-half comeback attempt.

With the Patriots deciding to retain him, Bourne should be eager to take advantage of his second chance. At his best, he is able to align in the slot, and on the outside. Though his technical prowess allows him to win from either alignment, he is most comfortable in the Z-receiver role, while occasionally assisting in the slot. He may also be called upon to carry the ball out of the backfield on occasion; both on the jet sweep and on designed runs. In short, his widespread skill set should allow him to test the coverage skill of Colts cornerbacks (and ex-Patriots) Kenny Moore and Stephon Gilmore. 

Follow Mike D’Abate on Twitter @mdabateNFL and Listen/Subscribe to his daily podcast: Locked On Patriots

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