FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots will be without starting center Bryan Stork for Thursday night's NFL opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and beyond, after the club on Wednesday officially placed him on injured reserve with a designation to return.
Stork is listed on the team's injury report with a concussion. A player placed on injured reserve with a designation to return can begin practicing after six weeks and can't play until after he has been on the list for eight weeks.
Stork's absence could have a significant trickle-down effect along the interior of the offensive line Thursday.
The Patriots are most likely to turn to seven-year veteran Ryan Wendell or undrafted free agent David Andrews out of Georgia in the absence of Stork, who started 11 regular-season and two playoff games last season and was credited with helping turn around some of the unit's early-season struggles.
Wendell normally would be the favorite to step in, but he had been on the physically unable to perform list until Aug. 25 after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He played in only one preseason game, the Sept. 3 finale against the New York Giants, and was limited to 15 snaps.
If the coaching staff is concerned about Wendell's ability to go wire to wire in a regular-season game, it could adopt a rotation of him and Andrews, who was a surprise in training camp. In another scenario, Andrews would start and Wendell would move to left guard, another position the team has questions about.
To fill the open roster spot created by Stork landing on injured reserve, the Patriots signed rookie cornerback Justin Coleman off the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad. Coleman, who spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings, had been with the Patriots for one day last week.