The leading tackler for the New England Patriots could be out of their game against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football this week. Safety Kyle Dugger tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.
Dugger has 80 tackles on the season, beating out LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (73) for the team lead before it drops off into the 50s. Though not an every-down player, he’s an integral part of the Patriots’ defense and had played more than 81 percent of their defensive snaps in 2021. He also has three interceptions, four passes defended, and a fumble recovery.
In addition to his role on defense, he’s in heavy use as a special teamer for the Patriots, and had played more than 35 percent of those snaps this season.
His vaccination status is unknown at this time, but Patriots fans are holding out hope that he’s vaccinated. If he remains asymptomatic, he can return in time for the game on Monday with two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart. If he is symptomatic, he will need to remain out until they subside and he tests negative. If he’s unvaccinated, he’s automatically out for a minimum of ten days.
Backup running back J.J. Taylor was also added to the COVID-19 list this week for the Patriots.
The move is big news for Bills’ tight end Dawson Knox, who would be the primary focus of Dugger’s attention in the passing game. Knox leads the Bills with seven touchdown catches.