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Patriots reportedly set to shake up offensive line 09.29.14 at 2:42 pm ET
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Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

The Patriots are expected to shake up the offensive line on Monday night, moving rookie Bryan Stork to the role of starting center, while installing another rookie — Cameron Fleming — at right guard and slotting the versatile Dan Connolly at the other guard position.

Meanwhile, Marcus Cannon and Jordan Devey, who have seen the bulk of the work at guard for the first three games, will apparently sit, at least for now. In addition, Ryan Wendell will move to a backup role. The moves come in the wake of some struggles up front over the course of the first three games of the season, a stretch where the team has had issues when it comes to pass protection.

Stork, who stepped in at center in the late stages of last week’€™s win over the Raiders, arrives at the NFL level with a peerless resume, having played some guard before moving to the pivot, where he eventually won the Rimington Award last year as college football’€™s best center. A captain and three-year starter at Florida State, he was a part of last season’€™s national championship team.

“€œHe’€™€™s really a football guy; loves football, works really hard at football,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Stork on Saturday. “He wants to be a football player and he’€™€™s dedicated himself to it; all those qualities that you love in any player but especially an offensive linemen. He’€™€™s got strength; he’€™€™s got a good frame for a center. He’€™€™s got good length and height. He played in a good program, he’€™€™s well coached, pretty good fundamental player. I thought he was as good as any center that we saw this year, the last couple years.”

Fleming played right tackle over the course of his career at Stanford — he said he got some work at right guard in college “as a joke” — but took some reps at right guard this week in practice. In his relatively brief NFL career, he has shown himself to be a steady and dependable blocker, mostly working as an extra tight end/tackle eligible in running situations.

As for Wendell, he could be in the mix now to serve as a backup at either guard or center going forward.

“He’€™€™s played both for us,”€ Belichick said of Wendell, who has fundamentally been the starting center in New England since 2012. ‘€œRyan’€™€™s a really smart player. He’€™€™s one of the smartest players that we have, that we’€™€™ve had. He really understands everything that we’€™€™re doing, including all the communication with the quarterback and so forth.”

The news was first reported by Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

Read More: Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, Dan Connolly, Jordan Devey
Bill Belichick praises work ethic, intelligence and versatility of Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell 09.27.14 at 12:14 pm ET
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Ryan Wendell

Ryan Wendell

One of the things the Patriots have always valued in their offensive linemen is versatility, and this year is no different. New England has been able to run out several offensive linemen who have experience at multiple positions — that has allowed the coaching staff to do some mixing and matching while it tries to find the best combination for an offensive line that’s struggling over the course of the first three games.

The fact that Dan Connolly was limited at practice this week with what the team is calling a foo injury means that rookie Bryan Stork and veteran Ryan Wendell might be doing some shuffling. Stork, who stepped in at center in the late stages of last week’s win over the Raiders, arrives at the NFL level with a peerless resume, having played some guard before moving to the pivot, where he eventually won the Rimington Award last year as college football’s best center. A captain and three-year starter at Florida State, he was a part of last season’s national championship team.

“[He] played obviously in a good program down there, played for a real good coach ‘€“ [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line] Coach [Rick] Trickett,” Belichick said Saturday. “He was strong; he was part of the Florida State workout the day we were there. He’€™s an athletic kid that runs fairly well. He’€™s a smart football player. He’€™s into football.

“He’€™s really a football guy; loves football, works really hard at football. He wants to be a football player and he’€™s dedicated himself to it; all those qualities that you love in any player but especially an offensive linemen. He’€™s got strength; he’€™s got a good frame for a center. He’€™s got good length and height. He played in a good program, he’€™s well coached, pretty good fundamental player. I thought he was as good as any center that we saw this year, the last couple years.”

A rookie center not only has the challenge of getting in sync with the rest of the line, but developing a relationship with the quarterback. But Belichick said Saturday that’s not the biggest challenge.

“I would say the passing game in general I think is the biggest change for the offensive line,” Belichick said when asked about rookie adjustments. “It’€™s more for the center than for the other positions relative to the amount of variables and the communication with the quarterback and then the cadence and actual timing and delivery of the snap and so forth.

“It’€™s not easy. It’€™s not easy to play offensive line in this league and it’€™s not easy to play center and it’€™s not easy to play center as a rookie.”
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bryan Stork, ryan wendell,
LB Jerod Mayo’s absence from Wednesday practice not injury related 09.17.14 at 5:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Jerod Mayo‘s absence from Wednesday practice was not injury related, according to the team.

The veteran linebacker was not spotted during the media portion of practice on Wednesday, and was identified as missing the session — however, the team noted on the injury report that it was not the result of an injury issue. In addition to Mayo’s absence, the only other player who was noted as out from today’s practice was safety Don Jones, who reportedly has a hamstring issue.

The Patriots also listed nine players as limited, including tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee), linebacker Jamie Collins (thigh) and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell.

Here’s a look at the complete report:

Did Not Practice
LB Jerod Mayo (not injury related)
S Don Jones (hamstring)

Limited
DE Michael Buchanan (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
OL Dan Connolly (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder)
WR Julian Edelman (back)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)
DT Sealver Siliga (hand)
RB Shane Vereen (shoulder)
OL Ryan Wendell (knee)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Dan Connolly, Don Jones, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo
Jamie Collins, Michael Buchanan, Ryan Wendell all downgraded to out against Vikings 09.13.14 at 9:20 pm ET
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Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins

The Patriots announced Saturday night that linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive end Michael Buchanan and center Ryan Wendell have been downgraded to out for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

Collins is in his second season, and the Southern Miss product has evolved into one of the more versatile defenders on the team. However, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder popped up on the injury report late this week with a thigh injury, and will miss the first game of his career as a professional Sunday against the Vikings. The Patriots shuffled the back end of the depth chart at linebacker on Saturday, releasing Darius Fleming and adding Deontae Skinner from the practice squad — Skinner could be in for a lot of snaps come Sunday in Minnesota.

Also in his second year, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Buchanan has struggled with an ample injury since the start of the season. The backup defensive end will miss his second game of the 2014 season as a result.

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Wendell, who will sit with a knee problem, has been the starting center for the last two years, but was pushed this summer by fellow offensive lineman Dan Connolly. With the offensive line already in a bit of a state of flux, Connolly and rookie Bryan Stork (if he’s 100 percent) will likely share pivot duties on Sunday against the Vikings. That will also likely mean Marcus Cannon, Jordan Devey and Josh Kline will share work at guard.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Jamie Collins, Michael Buchanan, ryan wendell,
Ryan Wendell, Rob Gronkowski among 5 limited on Patriots injury report 09.10.14 at 4:28 pm ET
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Ryan Wendell

Ryan Wendell

Five players were listed as limited on the Patriots injury report on Wednesday, including tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) and center Ryan Wendell (knee).

Gronkowski, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last December, is still working to get back to 100 percent, while Wendell apparently left the game late Sunday with a knee issue that required attention.

However, three notable players who were not listed include quarterback Tom Brady, who popped up on the injury report last week with a calf issue, and wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who sat out the opener last week against the Dolphins with a foot problem, one that has dogged him all the way back to last year. In addition, it appeared late in Sunday’s game that cornerback Darrelle Revis was being worked on on the sidelines — Revis later said was a cramping issue and not a hamstring problem.

Here’s the complete injury report:

DE Michael Buchanan (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)
DL Chris Jones (ankle)
DL Sealver Siliga (hand)
C Ryan Wendell (knee)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Chris Jones, Rob Gronkowski, ryan wendell, Sealver Siliga
What to watch for in Thursday’s Patriots-Giants preseason finale 08.28.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Here are seven things we’ll be looking for Thursday night when the Patriots meet the Giants in the preseason finale for both teams.

WHO DOESN’T PLAY

When it comes to the preseason finale, it’s just as important to figure out who doesn’t play as opposed to who does play. As we detailed here, if you’re a starter — or even a veteran — and you find yourself on the field for anything more than 10-15 snaps on Thursday night, it’s a bad sign. (The only area where this might be an exception is along the interior of the offensive line, for reasons we will address shortly.) Based on the work the Patriots were able to put in last week against the Panthers when they looked mostly razor sharp on both sides of the ball, don’t expect many of the starters to see the field against the Giants, despite the fact that we know New York is going to roll out its starters for between 15-18 snaps.

THE ROOKIES

A good chunk of this relates back to the first point — we know quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to start and get the bulk of the snaps. But given the fact that history tells us those who don’t play are likely to have a secure roster spot, we’ll be keeping an eye on a few first-year players and monitoring their playing time. Cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back James White have been among the rookies who have played well enough to land a roster spot over the course of the summer — if they end up sitting Thursday night, it’s a good bet they’ve made the roster.

JIMMY GAROPPOLO

Thursday will be the first professional start for Garoppolo, and he’€™ll get a chance to show what he can do against a No. 1 defense for the first time in the preseason. The New England coaching staff will be interested in seeing him in as many different situations as possible: two-minute, end-of-half, under pressure from a steady rush, as well as a potential four-minute offense situation. Everything is on the table when it comes to evaluating Garoppolo. From this viewpoint, Ryan Mallett still is the No. 2 quarterback on the roster, but the rookie will get his opportunity to show what he can do come Thursday evening in North Jersey.

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Read More: Brian Tyms, Bryan Stork, Dan Connolly, James White
QB Tom Brady talks about butts 08.14.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Tom Brady has a lot of respect for his centers.

The quarterback talked Wednesday about just how much he’s appreciated the work of Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell over the last few seasons and the chemistry he’s enjoyed with them. The result was an out-of-context smirkfest.

“I’€™ve got confidence in those guys,” Brady said. “I love both Dan and Wendy. I love those guys. They work so hard.

“The center-quarterback relationship is a pretty special one. I’€™ve got my hands on their butts probably more than their wives, so it’€™s a pretty unique trust and relationship you have.”

Clearly, we’ve reached the dog days of training camp.

Read More: Dan Connolly, ryan wendell, Tom Brady,
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