In another move that is less than ideal, on Saturday, the Buffalo Bills announced that Star Lotulelei did not travel with the team and is out for the game against the New England Patriots this Sunday. The reason is listed as “personal” and we have no details on the situation Lotulelei is facing.
Harrison Phillips started the game at 1-tech defensive tackle last weekend, but Lotulelei was used in heavy rotation. His snaps will likely go to practice squad DT Eli Ankou, who was called up to the active roster for the game. Ankou has played in three of the last four games for the Bills but each time has reverted to the practice squad as part of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. With multiple players on the COVID list, they don’t have to expose Ankou to waivers.
Buffalo is also missing defensive line coach Eric Washington and defensive end A.J. Epenesa this weekend. Both tested positive for COVID-19 and have been unable to clear the protocols to return.
The New England Patriots ran for 222 yards on the ground in their previous meeting three weeks ago, so being without a top run defender is certainly not a great development. Hopefully whatever is keeping out Lotulelei isn’t serious and he can return soon.