The Patriots will be squaring off against the Raiders on Sunday without a key piece to their offensive attack. On Saturday, New England placed starting center David Andrews on injured reserve after missing the past week of practice due to what they are calling a hand injury. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on Friday that Andrews actually had surgery this week to repair a broken thumb on his snapping hand. This doesn't come without an attempt to play for Andrews, however, as he was spotted during warmups on Thursday with a cast around his right arm. Mike Giardi of the NFL Network even reported that the 28-year-old was trying to snap with his other hand to play in Week 3, but the club is going in a different direction.
From here, New England does find itself in an unenviable position as they don't have the luxury of having a player like Ted Karras, who signed with the Dolphins last offseason, as a reliable backup. Karras started 15 games at center for them last season after Andrews was sidelined for all of 2019 following the discovery of blood clots in his lungs. Through two games this season, Andrews was the fourth-highest graded center by Pro Football Focus.
"it's extremely important," Cam Newton said Thursday when asked about getting on the same page with whoever will be the starting center. "It's kind of the most important transaction offensively for us."
In the immediate aftermath of Andrews landing on IR, the club promoted offensive lineman James Ferentz to the active roster. The 31-year old played in 15 regular-season games for New England a year ago and made two starts -- one at guard and the other at center. It's possible that he could be thrust into the starting lineup following Andrews' injury. Another option could be second-year lineman Hjalte Froholdt, a 2019 fourth-round pick who did not play during his rookie season after being placed on injured reserve. During his final season at Arkansas, Froholdt played three games a center but was largely used as a guard.
"Hjalte's had a good offseason," Bill Belichick said of Froholdt on Friday. "He had an opportunity to get a lot of reps last year in training camp, but then that was really about it for him. He was rehabbed early and was really ready by January, February to get a good full offseason in in terms of training and so forth, even though we weren't able to do it here, but he's a hardworking kid that did a lot on his own. So, he had a good offseason in terms of training and being healthy and he's been able to be out on the field every day and work hard and continue to get better on a daily basis since we've had the opportunity to begin practicing.
"So, way ahead of where he was last year on a number of levels. He's still a young player that has a lot of room to grow and works very hard at it, so he's taken a step to, as you said, being close to playing and hopefully he'll be able to compete for playing time here as he continues to improve."
The other option for New England is to swing All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney over to center, but the Patriots don't typically like to shake up two positions if they can avoid it. In any event, this will be a key area to watch as Sunday's contest unfolds.
Here are some other news and notes revolving around the Patriots from the last week.
How to watch
Cam Newton's Patriots future
CBS Sports' Joel Corry was wise to point to Cam Newton as one of the 15 players in a contract year to keep an eye on. Through two games, the Patriots quarterback has passed every test imaginable with flying colors. Not only is he dominating with his legs, but last Sunday's thriller in Seattle proved that he can dial it back and throw for nearly 400 yards if the situation calls for it. If this success continues, it does beg the question about Newton's future in Foxborough beyond 2020.
He was asked about whether or not he'd want to remain with the Patriots during an interview with The Greg Hill Show on WEEI on Tuesday and while he admitted that he isn't thinking about a contract extension or anything of the sort at the moment, he is enjoying his time in New England,
"I do admire and love the culture of the Patriots," he said. "It's been a place for me that has been therapeutic. This is a place that has been rather challenging for my growth and is making me better. And also, it has been a place that has given me everything for my needs at this particular time in my life. Through it all, I am going to let the cards shuffle the way they shuffle and do the things that I can control."
Currently, New England is getting the bargain of all bargains for their starting quarterback, who inked a one-year deal that has a max value of $7.5 million which is only attainable if the Patriots win the Super Bowl and he earns All-Pro honors. Corry also highlights that the Patriots retained the ability to designate either the franchise tag or transition tag on Newton this upcoming offseason. The 2021 non-exclusive tag for a QB could be in the $25 million range.
While Newton may not be thinking about an extension with the Patriots at the moment, if he keeps his current pace up, that conversation is only going to gain more steam.
Ryan Izzo enjoying enhanced role
If you've watched the Patriots this season, you've seen a lot of Ryan Izzo. The second-year tight end has played in 98% of the offensive snaps over the first two games and has started to be more involved in the passing game, catching three of his four targets for 44 yards. While he's only 24 years old, he is looked at as the veteran of the tight end group that consists of rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.
"It's been awesome. I am really happy about it," Izzo told reporters this week of his growing role within the offense. "I think it is attributed to all the hard work that I put in. Just moving forward I am just trying to keep being somebody the team can count on. Just being consistent and doing whatever I can to help them."
Harry not comparing Brady-Newton
N'Keal Harry's NFL experience is essentially night and day when comparing to his rookie season to Year 2. The most obvious is that he's playing with a new quarterback and it's hard to not see the difference in how both Cam Newton and Tom Brady approached the 2019 first-rounder. With Brady last year, the quarterback oftentimes seemed disinterested in bringing the rookie receiver along, especially after coming aboard late due to injury and only making his debut in Week 11. As for Newton, he's publicly backed Harry a number of times, including after he fumbled in the end zone in the opener.
"I think when it comes to wanting me to succeed, in that regard, I think Tom wanted me to succeed just as much," Harry said, via NESN.com. "But it's just hard trying to compare. I just feel as a rookie, it was just a lot harder for me to try to grasp the offense, missing half of the season and then just getting thrown in there like that. So it really is hard to compare. But it is helpful having Cam guiding me along everything that's going on."
Newton has shown on the field that he has trust in Harry late in games. The quarterback targeted Harry four times during New England's final drive of their Week 2 thriller against Seattle and the receiver hauled in three of them for 42 yards. Through two games, Harry has 13 receptions for 111 yards, which already out-produces his contributions from 2019.
"It's good to have trust from our quarterback," Harry said of Newton. "At the end of the day, as receivers, we just want to make him as comfortable as possible, and when he drops back he has faith in every single one of us that he can trust us to come down with the ball. It's really encouraging."
While Harry may not be getting into the business of comparing Newton and Brady, it does seem like he's meshing much better with his current signal-caller.
Sanu speaks on New England tenure
When the Patriots acquired Mohamed Sanu around the trade deadline last season, it was with the hope that he'd be the missing piece to an offense that was desperately in need of a talent upgrade. Out of the gate that proved to be true as the veteran receiver was able to catch 12 of his 19 targets over his first two games for 104 yards and a touchdown. An ankle injury derailed any significant contributions beyond that however and the Patriots cut Sanu prior to the start of this season.
"I felt like it just wasn't a good fit," Sanu, who recently signed with the 49ers, told reporters about his time with the Patriots, via The Sacramento Bee. "Things happened the way they happened, and I'm not really looking to the past. I'm grateful for my time in New England. It taught me a lot, just didn't jell out how I wanted it to."
Sanu's recent comments echo what Bill Belichick relayed to reporters in the immediate aftermath of Sanu's release.
"Just one of those things that didn't work out," Belichick said on Sept. 4. "I have a lot of respect for Mo, but ultimately things just didn't work out. I think he tried very hard, I think we tried hard. I don't think it was anybody's fault or anything like that. It was just one of those situations that just didn't work out as well as everyone hoped it would have when the transaction was made."
Edelman respects Bill Belichick's shirt game
Bill Belichick gave social media a good laugh this week when he showed up to his Wednesday press conference looking a bit disheveled and wearing a sweatshirt that had a number of holes in it. In all honesty, it was classic Belichick.
"The respect level goes up the roof for a guy just doesn't care what he looks like," Julian Edelman told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Friday morning. "He just cares about results and getting the job done."
James White remembers father on son's birthday
Condolences to James White and his family following a horrific accident involving his father and mother. It was revealed just prior to the start of New England's Sunday Night Football matchup with Seattle that the veteran running back would be inactive after his father was killed in a car accident in Florida that also left his mother in critical condition. On Tuesday, White broke his silence on the incident by celebrating his son's birthday and remembering his late father.
White has also been ruled out for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders as he continues to work through this difficult time.