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How guard Shaq Mason's potential absence could affect Patriots' line

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the notable parts of the New England Patriots' injury report Wednesday was rookie guard Shaq Mason missing practice with a knee injury. With Mason having finished Sunday night's win against the Colts, it was a bit of a surprise.

Mason, the fourth-round pick out of Georgia Tech, has been part of a three-man rotation at guard early this season. He's essentially been a starter and viewed by the coaching staff -- as reflected by the overall snap-count totals -- as the No. 2 option of the three guards in the rotation:

Josh Kline -- 84.8 percent

Mason -- 70.8 percent

Tre' Jackson -- 45.8 percent

Mason's best fit is at left guard, and his ability to pull and strike defenders on the second level has shown up multiple times this season. For example, his movement skills and power was evident on LeGarrette Blount's 38-yard touchdown run in Sunday night's win against the Colts.

So if Mason is unable to play Sunday against the Jets, how might the Patriots proceed?

Veteran Ryan Wendell's return would help.

Wendell has been inactive for the first five games of the season because of an undisclosed illness, but he's been inching closer to a return as evidenced by his presence with the team on the past two road trips. Wendell has been seen working out before the game, with a heavy focus on conditioning, as he attempts to work himself back into game-playing shape.

If Wendell is at a point where he is ready to return, the simple answer would be to insert him at the right guard spot where he started 12 regular-season games in 2014. He could rotate with Jackson (who is solely a right guard) at that spot as he continues to build more stamina.

If Wendell isn't ready, the Patriots would go with Jackson at right guard and might have to consider promoting guard Chris Barker from the practice squad for depth.

Another consideration is that Kline was limited with a shoulder injury in Wednesday's practice.

With these dynamics in play, there's the potential for a bit of a musical-chairs type situation with the Patriots' guard spots.