Of the five offensive linemen who started for the New England Patriots in Week 1, only one will suit up Sunday against the Houston Texans.
That's the situation the Patriots find themselves in after placing offensive tackle Trent Brown on injured reserve. Starting tackle Isaiah Wynn and guard Michael Onwenu both are on the reserve/COVID list, while guard Shaq Mason is ruled out for Week 5 with an abdomen injury.
That leaves center David Andrews as the only Week 1 starter available Sunday in Houston. So, who will fill in alongside him? Our Phil Perry shared his best guess Saturday.
Perry expects veterans Ted Karras and James Ferentz to play left and right guard. Karras played 27 snaps in the Patriots' Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is in his fifth year with New England, so he's their most experienced backup option.
Ferentz has yet to see the field in 2021 but appeared in 24 games for the Patriots over the previous three seasons.
Considering Yodny Cajuste's inexperience, Justin Herron and Yasir Durant are the likely options tackle. Herron, the team's sixth-round draft pick in 2020, has made two starts at right tackle this season in place of the injured Brown, who is sidelined through at least Week 7.
Patriots' projected offensive line vs. Texans
|Left tackle||Justin Herron|
|Left guard||Ted Karras|
|Right guard||James Ferentz|
|Right tackle||Yasir Durant/Yodny Cajuste|
Durant was brought in via preseason trade from the Kansas City Chiefs and started the Patriots' Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The second-year lineman has struggled at times, though, so Cajuste perhaps could replace him Sunday if those struggles continue.
New England also elevated offensive linemen Alex Redmond and Will Sherman from the practice squad Saturday as likely backups to the new starting unit.
The 1-3 Texans aren't a formidable opponent, but New England still faces a challenge in protecting Mac Jones behind a patchwork offensive line. The rookie quarterback has been hit 34 times this season for an average of 8.5 hits per game, which is on pace for the most hits absorbed by a QB in the last 10 years.
The Patriots' offensive line depth will be tested as they attempt to lower that average at NRG Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.