By necessity, the New England Patriots trotted out nearly an entirely new offensive line for Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Texans.
With injuries and COVID-19 protocols sidelining four of their five preferred starters, the Patriots were forced to start backups at both tackle spots and both guard spots around top-choice center David Andrews.
Here was the Patriots’ starting O-line against Houston:
LT: Justin Herron
LG: James Ferentz
C: David Andrews
RG: Ted Karras
RT: Yodny Cajuste
The most notable name in that group is Cajuste. The Patriots drafted him in the third round in 2019, but he had yet to play a single regular-season offensive snap entering Sunday. The West Virginia product missed two full seasons with injuries, sat out the first two games this season and played only on special teams in Weeks 3 and 4. He started in place of Trent Brown, who is out with a calf injury.
Ferentz, in for Mike Onwenu (reserve/COVID-19 list), is up from the practice squad. This was the fifth career start for the 32-year-old.
Karras, who replaces Shaq Mason (abdomen), is the most experienced of the four fill-ins, though most of his 36 career starts came at center. Herron started in Brown’s usual spot for two of the first four games, but he replaced left tackle Isaiah Wynn (COVID list) to begin this one.
Brown (calf) was placed on injured reserve Saturday, so he’ll miss at least the next two games, as well.
Yasir Durant (tackle/guard) and elevated practice squadders Alex Redmond (guard) and Will Sherman (tackle/guard) will provide depth in case of injuries or poor performance.
“This will be an opportunity for some guys that are looking for playing time and looking for a chance to play football in the regular season to do it,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s pregame show. “I know they’re excited, and we’ll see how it goes.”
On defense, Joejuan Williams made his first NFL start in place of injured outside cornerback Jalen Mills.
Despite their injuries, the Patriots entered Sunday as 7.5-point road favorites over the rebuilding Texans.
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