The Patriots found out last week that Tom Brady would be at quarterback for their season opener against the Steelers, but it continues to look like they’ll be without their starting center.
Bryan Stork missed a third straight practice Tuesday because of the concussion that kept him off the field for a good chunk of August as well. Stork was able to practice with the team on Saturday before returning to the bench and a return to the concussion protocol suggests a setback that could delay Stork’s return to the field until after the Patriots face the Steelers.
If Stork can’t play on Thursday night, the Patriots could turn to Ryan Wendell as their starter. Wendell’s versatility was praised by coach Bill Belichick during Belichick’s Monday press conference and he played center in 2012 and 2013, so there probably isn’t much doubt on New England’s part about his ability to handle the job on an interim basis.
Wendell spent time on the PUP list this summer after shoulder surgery, but returned to the field before the end of August. If he starts, he may be flanked by rookies Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson in their first NFL game. That makes the interior of the offensive line a bit of a mystery for the Patriots, although what we’ve seen of the Steelers defense this summer makes it difficult to predict that Pittsburgh can turn it into a problem for the home team.