Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday, we looked at No. 63 Tre’ Jackson, and the day before that it was No. 64 Chris Barker. Because today marks 62 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 62, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell.
Wendell came to New England in 2008 as an undrafted free agent, making him one of the longer-tenured players on the Patriots’ roster these days. However, the Fresno State product didn’t see game action until 2010, when played 15 games and eventually supplanted Dan Connolly, starting the final two games of that season.
In 2012, Wendell entered the NFL mainstream when he beat-out veteran Dan Koppen for the starting center job. According to Football Outsiders, no player in the NFL logged more snaps (1,379) than Wendell did that year, as he put in long hours on special teams in addition to offense.
However, it was at center that Wendell struggled in the beginning of 2014, when the Patriots’ offensive line was largely the culprit of that lousy 2-2 start. The Pats spent the first month of the season experimenting with different starting combinations on the offensive line, and it quickly became evident that Wendell was not best suited for the center job.
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You may remember that awesome Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals that sparked the Patriots’ Super Bowl run. Well, it was the shifting of Wendell to right guard that helped to repair the offensive line, and it turned out that Bryan Stork is one hell of a center (certainly better than Wendell).
For now, the starting right guard job is Wendell’s to lose. In the event that Stork is injured, the Patriots will bump Wendell back to center, but everyone in New England is more at ease with the slightly undersized Wendell lining up to the right of Stork.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 65 Jordan Devey, No. 66 Bryan Stork, No. 67 Josh Kline, No. 68 Caylin Hauptmann, No. 69 Shaq Mason, No. 71 Cameron Fleming, No. 72 Joe Vellano, No. 74 Trey Flowers, No. 76 Sebastian Vollmer, No. 77 Nate Solder, No. 80 Danny Amendola, No. 82 Josh Boyce, No. 84 Brian Tyms, No. 85 Jake Bequette and No. 86 A.J. Derby.