One of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s most challenging tasks this season – and there have certainly been many – has been constantly re-shuffling the offensive line as various players have dealt with injuries and COVID-19-related absences.
Injury reports so far this year have been bountiful. As a result, many linemen have adjusted to new spots and several rookies have had key roles.
Here’s how the offensive line has evolved from week to week.
Week 1 starters: Left tackle: Isaiah Wynn, left guard: Joe Thuney, center: David Andrews, right guard: Shaq Mason, right tackle: Jermaine Eluemunor.
Michael Onwenu rotated in at right tackle with Eluemunor, earning praise from Belichick for his versatility and ability to adjust quickly to new roles.
In other news, center James Ferentz joined the team mid-week.
Week 2: LT: Wynn, LG: Thuney, C: Andrews, RG: Mason, RT: Eluemunor.
Onwenu rotated in at right tackle with Eluemunor again.
Andrews missed practice Wednesday with a hand injury and returned for the media portion of drills Thursday with a cast covering his wrist. He didn’t practice Friday and had surgery on his right thumb before heading to injured reserve.
A black wrap/cast covers starting center David Andrews’ right thumb up to the wrist. Andrews (No. 60) was absent from Wednesday’s practice due to a hand injury. He went through drills in the media-access portion of practice Thursday. pic.twitter.com/PNP6osC52K
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 24, 2020
Week 3: LT: Wynn, LG: Onwenu, C: Thuney, RG: Mason, RT: Eluemunor.
With Andrews out for the foreseeable future, the Patriots had to adjust. Wynn was listed as questionable with a calf injury. He ended up playing, and Thuney – who had specialized at left guard since the Patriots drafted him in 2016 – made the switch to center for the game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Patriots eclipsed 200 rushing yards for the second time in three games, marking the first time since 1983 that they had 200-plus within the first three games of a season.
Week 4: LT: Wynn, LG: Thuney, C: Ferentz, RG: Onwenu, RT: Justin Herron.
With Mason (calf) out, the Patriots had to adapt once again against the Kansas City Chiefs. Thuney slid back to his typical spot, Ferentz got the start at center, Onwenu slid to right guard, and fellow rookie Herron made his first career start. Eluemunor was officially listed as questionable with a migraine.
Onwenu and Herron had both proven themselves early, but it was still noteworthy that the Patriots were starting two rookies on the offensive line.
Week 5: BYE
Mason and Wynn were both limited as a result of lingering calf injuries. As COVID-19 updates dominated the news cycle, and the game was postponed, both players had more time to rest and recuperate.
Thuney was spotted back in the building Saturday.
Week 6: LT: Herron, LG: Wynn, C: Thuney, RG: Onwenu, RT: Eluemunor.
The Patriots placed Ferentz on the COVID-19 Reserve list. Mason and Wynn were deemed questionable heading into the matchup against the Denver Broncos, then the team placed Mason, running back Sony Michel, and defensive end Derek Rivers on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
With Herron at left tackle, Wynn slid to left guard. Thuney’s return was a welcome sight for the Patriots, but it wasn’t enough as they lost to the Broncos.
Leftover from Thursday: Rookie OL Justin Herron (sixth round, Wake Forest, No. 195) smiled as he reflected on finding out he was starting in Week 4 minutes before the game (Jermaine Eluemunor migraine).
Fun fact on Herron: He didn’t start playing football until high school. pic.twitter.com/v1WvRCjPAk
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 16, 2020
Eluemunor left the game with an ankle injury, bringing in Hjalte Froholdt and forcing the Patriots to adjust. Later in the week, the Patriots placed Eluemunor on injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss at least the next three games.
The Patriots are scheduled to host the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, Oct. 25, at 4:25 p.m.
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