FOXBORO — The New England Patriots could be down another offensive lineman on Sunday when they host the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs.
Ted Karras suffered a sprained MCL against the Texans, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. And while Karras could miss Sunday and possibly the following week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick seems confident in the team’s replacement: James Ferentz.
“James has a lot of experience even though he doesn’t have a lot of playing time,” Belichick said of the third-year Patriot. “He’s played a lot of football, he’s practiced a lot of football. He’s been with us for a long time, he knows our offense and all the things that go with it — the line calls, the cadence and so forth — extremely well.”
Ferentz subbed in for Karras at center after the 12-week starter was injured in the third quarter in the Patriots 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Ferentz has started one game for the Patriots this season at right guard. It’s his only NFL start since entering the league in 2014. So while Ferentz may not necessarily have game-experience, his work ethic and other traits have clearly impressed Belichick.
“He’s one of the hardest working players on the team, is very dependable,” Belichick said. “He’s tough, he communicates well on the offensive line to direct traffic as David Andrews and Ted (Karras) also do. So we’re very fortunate that we have had multiple people that can do that, and that’s a key part of that position.
“But, another key part is obviously you have to block somebody on every play. There’s no plays that the center’s not involved in the blocking. Whether it’s run or pass, you can’t run away from the center; he’s right in the middle of the play. So, his instincts and awareness and playing strength and, I would say, experience – even though it’s not all in-game experience – are all positives,” Belichick said.
Karras, who had played every snap this season prior to the injury, filled in nicely for captain David Andrews, who was put on injured reserve and will not play this season. It has Belichick feeling Ferentz is capable of the same thing.
“He does a great job for us every day, and he’s backed up (David) Andrews and he’s backed up (Ted) Karras, and when you put him in there in practice, it’s pretty seamless,” Belichick said. “But, certainly gives us a lot of confidence when he goes in there that he knows what he’s doing, and we can depend on him, and that’s a very valuable thing. You hope you don’t need it, but we do now and I’m glad we have him.”