New England Patriots Place C Bryan Stork On IR With Designation To Return


The New England Patriots have placed center Bryan Stork in injured reserve with a designation to return, which obviously means he will be out tomorrow night against Pittsburgh.

From Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston:

"The New England Patriots will be without starting center Bryan Stork for Thursday night’s NFL opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and beyond, as the club on Wednesday officially placed him on injured reserve with a designation to return.Stork is listed on the team’s injury report with a concussion. A player placed on injured reserve with a designation to return can begin practicing after six weeks and can’t play until after being on the list for eight weeks."

This is a big blow for the Patriots, as Stork was easily their best interior offensive lineman, and it was Stork that helped get this offensive line to gel after the Kansas City blowout last season.

With the big guy sidelined, I expect the Patriots to go with Ryan Wendell at center, Tre’ Jackson at right guard, and either Shaq Mason, or Josh Kline at left guard. I personally like Mason to start over Kline, as while he will have some growing pains as a rookie in pass protection, he is an absolutely animal in terms of physical power, and he will help tremendously in the run game, and is physically better off than Kline will ever be.

I think Bill Belichick will look to experiment at that left guard spot a little bit while Stork is out, but I believe eventually he will settle on a Mason-Wendell-Jackson interior line, as that is the best possible combination he can put out right now.

One of my three offensive keys for the Patriots tomorrow was to keep Tom Brady upright, and now that is true to an even bigger extent. The Pats have a ton of matchups to exploit versus the Steelers’ secondary, but if Brady is constantly pressured up the middle, it won’t matter. Hopefully the two rookies, plus Ryan Wendell can come through, although I would expect Josh McDaniels to help them out with a lot of quick throws to help offset Pittsburgh’s pass rush.

Looking ahead, I hope Stork is okay, as head injuries are no joke, and also hope he is ready to go once November rolls around. You want your team firing on all cylinders around Thanksgiving, so as long as Stork is good for that playoff push, I say take as long as you need to get healthy.