Repieced Offensive Line Works Wonders For Patriots Against Las Vegas
Heading into Week 3, we didn't really know what the New England Patriots' starting offensive line would look like.
Starting center David Andrews reportedly broke his thumb in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, which required surgery and put him on injury reserve on Saturday. And with no clear-cut backup to Andrews on the roster, there were several different options for the Patriots to choose from to try and fill the void left by Andrews, who was one of the best centers in the league through two weeks of the regular season.
Lo and behold, the option New England chose for Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium worked wonders.
Trotting out onto the field just a few seconds after the game started, starting left guard Joe Thuney was spotted as the center for New England. On top of that, rookie sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu notched his first start of the 2020 season at left guard. And the Patriots' newly re-tooled offensive line dominated in the trenches en route to a 36-20 win over the Raiders.
New England's backfield combined for 250 rushing yards on the day. Sony Michel (117 rushes on nine carries), Rex Burkhead (49 rushing yards and two touchdowns on six carries) and J.J. Taylor (43 yards on 11 carries) had big running lanes to run through frequently. This led to players like Michel, who was off to a slow start this season, to break off runs of 38 and 48 yards, respectively, which was the first time in his career he had at least one run of 35+ yards in a game, let alone two.
"Growing up, people go down and you gotta shift around a little bit," Joe Thuney said after the game when asked about stepping up and playing a relatively new position for him. "Credit to Cole (Popovich) and (Carmen Bricillo), they've done above and beyond, they've really laid out the game plans really well for us and taught us so many great things."
On a day when Cam Newton wasn't Superman under center - completing 60 percent of his passes for 162 yards, one touchdown and also throwing an interception - New England's offensive line rose to the occasion under tough circumstance and shined. That's impressive, especially against a Raiders team that was coming off back-to-back wins against the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints to start the regular season.
Week 3 showed that despite injuries and some struggles from their quarterback, the Patriots have the versatility and depth on their roster to perform at a high level. That's key for a team that still hasn't fully meshed yet due to the circumstances that have taken place over the last seven months.
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