Patriots

Ted Karras injury: Patriots center leaves Texans game early with knee issue

Ted Karras injury: Patriots center leaves Texans game early with knee issue

The New England Patriots offensive line has been ravaged by injuries this season, and the latest blow came in Sunday night's Week 13 game versus the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

Starting center Ted Karras was officially ruled out for the remainder of the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. James Ferentz replaced Karras at center for the rest of the second half.

Karras began the season as the second-string center behind David Andrews. He became the starter when Andrews was ruled out of the 2019 season due to blood clots. Karras had played every offensive snap this season before coming out of Sunday's matchup.

His injury is the latest in a long list of health issues for the team's offensive line, including both tackle positions. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn returned in Week 12 after spending much of the season on injured reserve. Right tackle Marcus Cannon missed Week 2 with a shoulder injury and has battled an illness over the last two weeks.

Karras' injury comes at an especially tough time for the Patriots because their offense has struggled mightily over the last four games.

WATCH: Tom Brady gets into animated sideline convo with teammates>>>

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Patriots told Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney he had 'loser's mentality' in combine interview

Patriots told Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney he had 'loser's mentality' in combine interview

Under Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots have created a very defined culture. They don't deal with nonsense and players they pick often have specific traits and ways of thinking that fit their winning culture.

And Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney found out about this the hard way at the 2020 NFL Combine.

The NFL hopeful described his meeting with the Patriots during the combine and spoke of their dedication to culture and how one wrong answer made the team say that Pinkney's response was "a loser's mentality."

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“It’s interesting, because [with] a team that’s been winning for as long as they have, you expect them to come in with a certain mentality and to share that mentality and to spread it and impart it on you,” Pinkney said, per NESN's Zack Cox. “And that’s exactly what happened. I gave a kind of wonky answer, and it was like, ‘No, that’s a loser’s mentality.’ And I was like, ‘OK, my bad.’ [raises hands] They were like, ‘You need to be like this and that and that,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, sir. I’m better.’ ”

That had to be an uncomfortable moment for Pinkney, but he surely isn't the first prospect to have something like that happen to him at the combine. And that was just one of the responses he gave during his session with the team, so he probably did fine overall.

It's no surprise that the Patriots interviewed Pinkey, who our own Phil Perry identified as a Prototypical Patriot to watch in the Senior Bowl. And the Patriots are looking to add some talent at tight end, as they got little to no production out of their triage of Matt LaCosse, Ben Watson, and Ryan Izzo last season and never properly replaced Rob Gronkowski after his retirement during the 2019 offseason.

Pinkney (6-foot-4, 257 pounds) had 20 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. His most productive collegiate season came as a junior in 2018 when he grabbed 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next Pats Podcast: Which QBs could the Patriots target in the draft?

Next Pats Podcast: Which QBs could the Patriots target in the draft?

Even after taking Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of last year's NFL Draft, the New England Patriots could look to add another quarterback in late April.

That'll likely depend on whether or not Tom Brady returns to New England. But if they do decide to add another young QB in the 2020 draft, they'll have several intriguing players to choose from.

If the Patriots decide to trade up, two of those options could be Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama or Justin Herbert out of Oregon. But even if they decide to sit back and wait for a QB to fall in their lap, they could find a diamond in the rough.

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On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, The Athletic's Dane Brugler joins Phil Perry to discuss Tua, Herbert, and other QBs the Patriots could have their eye on:

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Brugler isn't exactly a believer in Herbert, but it's a different story with Tagovailoa.

I would not trade up for Justin Herbert. That's just my personal opinion. I like Justin Herbert, I just -- I think there's something missing there. I see a Ryan Tannehill type of player ... 

If I'm convinced that Tua is healthy, I would definitely consider that move to go up and get him if i was in striking distance to do it. Tua, talking about instincts and how important it is at the quarterback position, I think he has that. I do worry about the durability.

Part of what makes him special is his ability to improvise. There's a little bit of Russell Wilson there with his ability to get outside the pocket and make things happen, but that also leads to more hits on his body. And so, you do worry about long-term. He needs to do a better job not taking some of those hits.

If New England opts to stand pat rather than trade up, there's one name in particular that stands out to Brugler.

If I decided not to trade up and I'm staying put, there's definitely some intriguing options there. I mean, Jordan Love, he's so intriguing.

It's funny, if we switch his sophomore year and his junior year... Jordan's Love's a top-10 lock. But it's because he took such a dip this past season with a new coaching staff, with losing a lot of talent around him, only one returning starter on offense. Because of all these factors, he didn't have that season he had the year before.

To hear about the other QBs Brugler sees as options for the Patriots, plus a complete breakdown of the latest on the NFL CBA with Judy Battista of NFL.com, check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast, available as part of the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.