FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had 12 different offensive linemen play at least a snap for them throughout the 2015 regular season. It’s been that type of year.
Injuries have ravaged the line to the point that they entered a couple of games in 2015 with just six healthy blockers (not the usual seven). Last year’s starting center, Bryan Stork, even had to move out to right tackle at one point.
Of course, that was after Stork had returned from opening the year on the short-term injured reserve list (concussion).
Undrafted rookie David Andrews, a center from Georgia, took advantage of his opportunity as one of the surprise stories of the season. He started the first 10 games of the season, playing every snap up until being replaced by Stork early in a Nov. 23 win over the Buffalo Bills.
“He’s done a tremendous job to come in here as an undrafted player to be thrust right in the middle of the action from basically day one or the third practice of training camp -- whenever it was when Bryan went out,” noted coach Bill Belichick.
“To take every snap, to be there and be as dependable and consistent and as good as he’s been, is a tremendous accomplishment for him in terms of what he’s been able to do. He’s ready to go every day. He’s alert, asks good questions, on top of it, makes very few mistakes, dependable, consistent, tough. I’m so glad we have him on our team. And he’s ready to accept whatever role it is.”
The musical chairs along the offensive line, and Andrews’ contributions, provide a springboard to delve into a final 2015 snap-count analysis for the Patriots’ offense:
Total offensive snaps: 1,119
G Josh Kline – 866 (77.4 percent)
OT Sebastian Vollmer – 817 (73.0 percent)
C David Andrews – 766 (68.5 percent)
G Shaq Mason – 738 (66.0 percent)
OT Marcus Cannon – 625 (55.9 percent)
RG Tre Jackson – 607 (54.2 percent)
C Bryan Stork – 491 (43.9 percent)
OT/TE Cameron Fleming -- 469 (41.9 percent)
LT Nate Solder – 230 (20.6 percent)
OT LaAdrian Waddle – 37 (3.3 percent)
C/G Ryan Wendell – 13 (1.2 percent)
G Chris Barker – 4 (0.4 percent)
NOTES: There were a lot of moving parts over the course of the season. Starting left tackle Nate Solder’s season-ending biceps injury Oct. 11 taxed the tackle depth, as No. 3 man Marcus Cannon -- who is viewed by Belichick as a starting-caliber player -- had to step in and the results have been mixed. Overall, there was a lot of good experience for the three rookies -- Andrews, Mason and Jackson.
LeGarrette Blount – 308 (27.5 percent)
Dion Lewis – 298 (26.6 percent)
James White – 290 (25.9 percent)
Brandon Bolden – 191 (17.1 percent)
Steven Jackson – 33 (2.9 percent)
Joey Iosefa – 23 (2.1 percent)
Travaris Cadet 3-- (0.3 percent)
NOTES: The depth of this group was taxed after Lewis was lost to a torn ACL on Nov. 8 and Blount to a hip injury Dec. 13. Jackson now looks like the top power option, with White the “sub back” who excels in the passing game. Blount is a free agent after the season, as is Jackson, so a power back could be a high priority on the offseason needs list.
Brandon LaFell – 659 (58.9 percent)
Danny Amendola – 576 (51.5 percent)
Julian Edelman -- 525 (46.9 percent)
Keshawn Martin – 481 (43.0 percent)
Aaron Dobson – 212 (18.9 percent)
Chris Harper – 67 (6.0 percent)
Matthew Slater – 20 (1.8 percent)
Leonard Hankerson – 10 (0.9 percent)
Damaris Johnson – 3 (0.3 percent)
NOTES: Similar to many positions on the roster, health was a big issue all year, as evidenced by LaFell leading all receivers in snaps played despite missing the first six games on the physically unable to perform list. Amendola’s contract will be something the sides figure to address in the offseason, as he’s a valuable cog, but his pure No. 3 role isn’t necessarily aligned with what is currently on the books for 2016. Edelman was leading the team with 61 receptions at the time he broke a bone in his left foot Nov. 15, and hasn’t played since. He’s expected back for the playoffs.
Rob Gronkowski – 942 (84.2 percent)
Michael Williams – 450 (40.2 percent)
Scott Chandler – 382 (34.1 percent)
Michael Hoomanawanui – 23 (2.1 percent)
Asante Cleveland – 33 (2.9 percent)
NOTES: The Patriots had solid depth at this spot early in the year, which provided flexibility to trade Hoomanawanui to New Orleans in exchange for defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. That was a good deal for the team. Gronkowski missed one game (Dec. 6 loss to the Eagles), while Williams overtook Chandler as the No. 2 tight end, which wasn’t expected earlier in the year. He provides more beef in the running game.
Tom Brady – 1,106 (98.8 percent)
Jimmy Garoppolo – 13 (1.2 percent)
NOTES: This is just the way Brady likes it, as he seldom wants to come out of games. He was in the MVP discussion all year.