The New England Patriots, down starting center David Andrews (blood clots), have taken immediate measures to fortify their offensive line.
Never one to sit idly by as teams around the NFL pare down their rosters and make tough decisions regarding player cuts, the New England Patriots are once again proving themselves to be active participants in all the action.
Center David Andrews had been the team’s starting center since the 2015 season, but blood clots found in his lungs have now prematurely ended his 2019 season before it ever began. It’s a tough break for Andrews and for the Pats, who have enjoyed fairly remarkable consistency along their offensive line over the years, with the recent turnover at left tackle being the only exception.
While Andrews attends to his health (presumably via beginning blood thinner medication and treatment), New England must pivot with less than two weeks to go before their regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 8.
It’s unideal timing to say the least, but as with any injury in sports, this is where the motto “next man up” really comes into play. The Patriots have built a modern-day dynasty by walking that walk over the past two decades, previously overcoming significant injuries to star players like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and even Tom Brady one year, while still remaining highly-competitive in the NFL.
Backup centers Ted Karras and James Ferentz figure to see the most looks now at center, with Karras probably having the inside edge based off previous starting experience in meaningful games. Per CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley, Karras has been with New England since 2016, has been active for 45 career games, and has already made five starts along the interior of the Patriots’ offensive line.
All this is to say that while the loss of Andrews represents a substantial obstacle for this year’s squad in trying to repeat as champions – arguably their biggest obstacle since Gronkowski announced his retirement – all hope is not lost for the Patriots. Especially with the best offensive line coach in the business, Dante Scarnecchia, still at the controls, New England should be able to survive the transition from Andrews to Karras this season.
It also appears that more help is on the way, courtesy of a pair of trades made Wednesday by the Patriots with the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens.
New England dealt a sixth-round draft pick to the Cards for left tackle Korey Cunningham, again per CBS Boston. Cunningham is a massive player, checking in at 6’6 and 311 pounds. He started six games in 2018 as a rookie, and while the Arizona offensive line was largely an epic disaster last season, he still has enough upside and talent to represent a valuable insurance policy for presumptive starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (who is coming off a missed season due to a torn Achilles).
The Patriots have rotated Wynn in and out of the starting rotation throughout training camp and the preseason in an effort to get him acclimated to the NFL, while still being mindful of his injury and place in the recovery process. There is cautious optimism at this point that Wynn can be a full-go come September 8 at the all-important left tackle spot, but it’s still prudent for the team to have backup plans in place should he struggle or regress in his injury rehab at any point.
Per the Ravens’ official Twitter account, the Patriots have also come to terms on a trade that brings third-year guard Jermaine Eluemunor to New England for an undisclosed draft pick. Eluemunor was once considered the favorite to be Baltimore’s starting left guard per ESPN reporter Jamison Hensley, but he fell out of favor with the team after struggling with injuries, penalties, and conditioning.
Provided he passes a physical with New England’s training staff, the Patriots will hope that Scarnecchia can coach Eluemunor up to avoid some of the costly mental mistakes he made this spring and summer. If he can overcome those mental and physical hindrances, Eluemunor – along with Cunningham – has the pedigree and skills to further strengthen and stabilize the depth chart for the Patriots’ offensive line.