Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bill Belichick expresses confidence in Patriots backup center James Ferentz: ‘He definitely knows what to do’


Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night was a costly one for more reasons than the final score. The Patriots also saw several players go down with injuries, including their starting center.

David Andrews sustained a head injury in the fourth quarter after absorbing an illegal blindside block. The team captain walked off under his own power, but he did not return to the game and eventually was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Andrews’ status for the Patriots’ upcoming game against the New York Jets is therefore in question, especially after he missed Wednesday’s practice.

If the veteran is unable to return in time, New England already has a replacement ready: James Ferentz, who took the field on Monday after Andrews’ departure and played the game’s final eight snaps at the center position. Two days later, head coach Bill Belichick expressed confidence in the backup center.

“He’s been in our system a long time,” Belichick said during a press conference on Wednesday. “He definitely knows what to do. Smart kid. Played all three positions in there, center and guard.”

A rookie free agent out of Iowa in 2014, Ferentz has been with the Patriots since 2017. Over the next six seasons, he moved between the active roster and practice squad on a regular basis but still managed to start six games for the team.

This season so far, the 33-year-old has only seen spot duty. He took the field in Week 1 against Miami, replacing rookie Cole Strange for eight total snaps. As noted above, he added eight more snaps to his tally after Andrews’ concussion against the Bears.

Heading into Week 8, there is a real possibility Ferentz will have to move into starting the lineup — something he did two times each during the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons. If such a promotion happens, he will be a downgrade from Andrews (which is not necessarily what New England needs against a defensive line as talented as New York’s).

Still, Belichick is confident Ferentz will be ready for the challenge should push come to shove.

“If James has to play, I’m sure he’ll play well for us.”

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