New England Patriots

Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) catches a touchdown pass in front of New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots have more COVID-19 issues to deal with ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Linebackers Matthew Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley have both been placed in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, as first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates. The news doesn’t necessarily put either player’s status for Sunday in jeopardy. Under the updated protocol, vaccinated players can return as soon as 24 hours after an initial positive test if they remain asymptomatic. (Kyle Dugger, pictured above, was not reported as entering the protocol.)

Judon confirmed earlier in 2021 that he’s vaccinated. Bentley’s status isn’t publicly known. Unvaccinated players are subject to daily testing and still need to quarantine away from team facilities for at least 10 days if they test positive. New CDC guidelines announced on Monday, however, recommend an isolation period of five days for people who test positive. We’ll see if that leads to updated NFL protocols as soon as this week.

If Judon and/or Bentley end up unable to play Sunday against Jacksonville, the Patriots would have significant workloads to replace on defense. Judon has played 813 defensive snaps through 15 games, third-most on the team. Bentley has played 62 percent of snaps (598 total) in 14 games.

Judon has 12.5 sacks and 25 QB hits on the season, but has zero of either in his last two games, both Patriots losses. New England is 1-4 this season when Judon does not record a sack.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne entered the COVID protocol on Dec. 20, but was activated on Christmas just in time for Sunday’s game against the Bills. Bourne played only 47 percent of offensive snaps after missing practice all week. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson was not activated before Sunday after entering the protocol last Friday.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.