The Patriots are preparing to take on Washington in their Week 9 clash in Foxborough on Sunday, looking to improve to 8-0 at the midpoint of the season. Obviously the team has performed well throughout the first half and it's a natural time to assess things moving forward.
Beyond the normal superlatives that go along with established stars like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, as well as the incredible efforts of players such as Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower and Stephen Gostkowski, we thought it would a good time to look at some of the lesser-known contributors.
Specifically, with a half a season under their belts we felt it was a good opportunity to look at the rookie class. Several –David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson – have received plenty of playing time along the offensive line. Long snapper Joe Cardona has stepped right in and performed well. Geneo Grissom, Malcom Brown and Jordan Richards have been contributors on defense.
So this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Who is the Patriots Rookie of the Year at midseason?
PFW's Andy Hart says...
What more could you ask for from a rookie center than what Andrews has provided. Stepping in for the injured Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell, Andrews has played every snap and handled all of the line calls for a young and developing offensive line.
Making Andrews' efforts even more impressive is the fact that he's done it working with rookies on either side of him. When Stork was thrust into the mix last year as a rookie, he had the benefit of having Wendell and Dan Connolly on either side of him.
Andrews' performance has been so good that I feel he should keep his job even when Stork returns. Tom Brady seems comfortable with him, and that's good enough for me.
PFW's Paul Perillo says...
Obviously the rookie offensive linemen have been the most impressive and I'm going with Mason based on the versatility and athleticism he's shown. Mason shows incredible agility when pulling and leading the way in the running game, and he's even popped up occasionally as a fullback to help out in short-yardage situations.
The only negative with Mason thus far has been health as he's dealt with a knee injury but when he's been on the field he's been every bit the athletic mauler that he was portrayed to be in college. And his pass protection has been much better than advertised coming out of Georgia Tech's triple-option attack.
Mason has been a key cog at left guard, and with Nate Solder out for the year his importance on that side is even greater. Hopefully he'll continue his strong play in the second half.