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Patriots make it work with short-handed offensive line

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots entered Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins with just six healthy offensive linemen, and one of them, Bryan Stork, was active for the first time this season.

It wasn't ideal, and when starting left tackle Sebastian Vollmer left the game late in the second quarter with a head injury (presumably a concussion), it made a difficult situation even more challenging.

"We definitely had to make some adjustments," said head coach Bill Belichick, who credited offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo for simplifying things. "We obviously practiced those situations, but as far as game-planning and the way that the game unfolded, there were some things we felt like we didn’t need at that point and so we focused on the things that we were going to use and call, and that’s what we did, and those guys did a good job on that."

The Patriots led 17-0 at the time Vollmer departed the game, and had right tackle Cameron Fleming flip to the left side, while inserting Stork -- the 2014 starting center who entered Sunday's game as a top reserve -- at right tackle.

"For Bryan to play right tackle, it's unbelievable," quarterback Tom Brady said. "And then Flem to go to left tackle; I don't know when we thought about doing that, but that's what happens when you're a little bit under pressure."

Fleming said he had never played left tackle in a game before, but he had prepared at the position in practice in the event of an injury.

"I've never been over there before, so it's cool," he said. "I had to switch my legs. It's the same position, it's just on a different side. You have to kind of flip everything in your head."

With Fleming at left tackle and Stork at right tackle, the Patriots had rookie Shaq Mason at left guard, rookie David Andrews at center and third-year player Josh Kline at right guard.

"You've got to be ready to go," Kline said. "We only dressed six, so if someone goes down, we've only got five left."

The offensive line helped pave the way for running back LeGarrette Blount, who had a career-high 29 rushes for 129 yards. Blount had 65 rushing yards before contact, the fourth most of his career and the most by a Patriots rusher this season. Coming into the game, the Patriots had the fewest rushing yards before contact in the NFL (330).

Brady also wasn't sacked. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he was under duress on only three of his 39 dropbacks (7.6 percent), his second-lowest pressure percentage in the last three seasons (5.7 percent vs Bears in Week 8 of 2014) and the fifth-lowest pressure percentage for any quarterback in a game this season.