Tuesday, November 22, 2022

James Ferentz is ready to play a bigger Patriots role with David Andrews out


Published: Nov. 21, 2022, 9:39 a.m.

FOXBOROUGH – James Ferentz ‘wife, Skylar, often wonders out loud about why her husband works late nights.

Since entering the NFL in 2014, Ferentz has eight-career starts and 52 games played. He’s bounced on and off various teams practice squads, including the Patriots. As a reserve offensive lineman, there’s no guarantee he sees the field. But as the 33-year-old explains to his wife, that doesn’t mean he has less work to do during the week.

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I approach every week the same even if I’m not playing. Things like (Sunday) happen,” Ferentz told MassLive. “You just never know when your number is going to be called. I always joke with my wife. ‘How come you’re not home? Blah, blah blah.’ I’m like, ‘well, the week that I skip my assignments for what I need to get done is the week you get thrown in the game.’”

The eight-year veteran has leaned on his experience in order to help teams like the Patriots in a pinch. In his first four NFL seasons, it rarely happened. Over the last four, Ferentz has started eight games in New England. With starting center David Andrews suffering a thigh injury that could reportedly keep him out for the remainder of the season, Ferentz is in line to play the biggest role of his NFL career.

When Andrews went down in the first half on Sunday, Ferentz finished the game at center, logging 48 offensive snaps. That gave him a career-high 205 offensive snaps played this season. His next start, which should be on Thursday, will mark a career-high three starts.

For Ferentz, these moments are bittersweet since Andrews is one of his best friends.

“Any chance you get to play, you’re excited. It’s really unfortunate when it’s one of your best friends who gets injured,” Ferentz said. “That part of it stinks. Obviously, you hope Dave is alright. Sometimes that’s the way football goes – sometimes you get a good break, sometimes you get a bad break.”

Ferentz, who’s the son of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, has relied on his football intelligence to last this long in the NFL. In New England, he’s been a versatile piece for the offensive line. Last season, he split his time between the practice squad and active roster. When the Patriots offensive line was hit by COVID-19 and other injuries, Ferentz made his first career-start at left guard against the Houston Texans.  He started two games at left guard last fall.

Ferentz started two games in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He made his first career-game game in 2019 at right guard when Shaq Mason suffered an injury. His next three starts came at the center position.

Working as a reserve offensive lineman isn’t always easy. You prepare hard even though you might not play. For Ferentz, all those years of preparing have led him here. Now, the Patriots need him more than ever.

“The one good thing about being around for a while is I’ve been preparing for that moment for a long time. It just hasn’t come,” Ferentz said. “Unfortunately for Dave, it’s come this year a few more times. It’s one of those things, I take a lot of pride in the way I prep throughout the week. If you get thrown in, you get thrown in and hopefully it goes well.

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