FOXBORO — Despite its struggles in 2021, the New England Patriots offensive line is still considered among the best in the NFL.
Boasting a balance of capable starters and strong pool of reserves, the Pats’ protective unit has recently ranked as high as seventh in the league based on its 2021 performance.
Still, the team heavily invested in their offensive line during the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting three linemen: Cole Strange (first-round, 29th overall), Chasen Hines (sixth-round, 210th overall) and Andrew Stueber (seventh-round, 245th overall).
Though Strange took reps with the starters during OTAs and minicamp, Hines and Stueber were both deemed not ready to practice.
Apparently, that is still the case for one of the Pats’ rookie linemen.
According to a recent report from ESPN, Stueber has continued his minicamp absence and was even a no-show at last week's team event: the New England Patriots Alumni Club "Football for You" clinic. The report indicated that Stueber was the only rookie who did not attend the event, calling into question the potential reasons for his absence.
Stueber has the distinction of being the Patriots’ final choice in the 2022 NFL Draft. The 6-6, 325-pound former Michigan Wolverine appeared in 34 games with 22 starts. He started 20 games at right tackle and two at right guard. Much like Hines, Stueber projects as a potential reserve swing offensive lineman for the Pats in the upcoming season.
The 22-year-old native of Darien, Connecticut chose to attend Michigan in 2016, after being ranked as a four-star prospect by ESPN and fourth on the list of the top players in the state of Connecticut. In his final year as a Wolverine in 2021, he helped lead the offensive line with the fewest sacks allowed (10) and third-fewest tackles for loss (27) nationally and was a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by the media and was named a second-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.
Though some have speculated that Stueber’s absence may be related to injury, no confirmation or intimation on the subject has been offered. As a junior at Michigan in 2019, he suffered a torn ACL in training camp and missed the entire season. However, he returned to the field in 2020 and started all six games in the pandemic-shortened campaign; two at right guard and four at right tackle.
Regardless of the reason for his absence, Stueber’s presence at training camp will be closely monitored as the Patriots rookies are set to report to Gillette Stadium July 26.