10 things Patriots fans should be thankful for

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

6. Trio of rookie offensive linemen playing like veterans

One of the main worries before the Week 1 game against Pittsburgh was the reality that the Patriots would be starting three rookie linemen on the interior of the offensive line: undrafted Georgia product David Andrews at center, and 2015 fourth-rounders Tre’ Jackson out of Florida State and Shaq Mason out of Georgia Tech at both of the guard positons.

Andrews played like a seasoned veteran from the moment he stepped foot on the field, leading some to wonder if he would replace Bryan Stork as the full-time starter. Since Stork’s return from the PUP list, the Pats have still used Andrews as their center, shifting Stork out to guard or tackle. Although he’s undersized, Andrews has played brilliantly and has a bright future in New England.

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Jackson played lights-out and then suffered a knee injury in late October; after missing a few weeks, he returned to action in Week 11. Although he was partly to blame for the offensive line’s struggles against the Bills, Jackson has played very well on the whole this year.

Mason has used his run-blocking skills he acquired in the Georgia Tech run-dominated offensive system to snowplow for LeGarrette Blount all season. He is excellent as a pull blocker, clearing lanes on the line of scrimmage and utilizing his surprising speed to block down the field on quick screens.

Yes, these guys all struggled in Week 11, but for the most part, they have played beyond their years and Patriots fans should be thankful for their quiet contributions to the 10-9 record.

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