The Patriots have dealt with their share of difficult situations through the first couple of weeks of the season, both on and off the field. No area has been affected more so than the offensive, and yet Dante Scarnecchia’s group just keeps performing.
That was tested last Sunday in Miami when his troops opened the game down a pair of starters in David Andrews and Marcus Cannon. Shortly later, Scarnecchia lost a third when Isaiah Wynn left with turf toe, forcing some significant adjusting.
The result was Marshall Newhouse moving from right tackle to left while Korey Cunningham replaced him on the right side. Ted Karras remained in the middle for his second straight start at center, and while it wasn’t perfect (three holding calls, two sacks), things didn’t fall apart either.
“Every year [Ted’s] been here he’s started somewhere on the line, usually at either guard or center,” Scarnecchia said on Friday when he and other Patriots assistants were made available to the media at Gillette Stadium. “Ted’s always done what we expect him to do. He knows the system. He’s been raised in the system. I think he always prepares himself to play.
“We could not be any more fortunate than to have a guy like that who can play all three of those positions and the wheels don’t come off the offense. So we’re pleased with Ted.”
From the sound of things, Scarnecchia may be forced to continue juggling his lineup. Cannon went through an on-field workout prior to the Dolphins win but was deemed unfit to play. He’s remained limited in practice this week, and the veteran coach said there were no plans to move left guard Joe Thuney to tackle.
“We’re going to stick with Marshall there. That’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “I think continuity is much more important than anything right now. But for right now we’re going to put those guys out there that played last week and we’ll see what Marcus’ status is and go from there.”
That likely means the unit that finished the game in Miami should start against the Jets. Scarnecchia had plenty of praise for Newhouse in particular, who has shown a high aptitude since arriving a short time ago.
“This guy is so smart,” Scarnecchia said. “I’ve really been very impressed with him, not only his intelligence and football IQ but his study and work ethic to learn our offense has been exemplary. If he doesn’t know he’ll ask and we feel really fortunate to have him around here and we’re going.”
Scarnecchia is often lauded for his ability to get his players up to speed and to deal with the adversity that injuries inevitably bring. That has been tested significantly in the early going of 2019 with four offensive linemen currently on the roster who weren’t with the team during training camp – Newhouse, Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor and Caleb Benenoch.
Can it be exhausting to deal with such rapid turnover?
“No, that’s just part of the job. I don’t do anything; I just coach,” he said. “You come in early and go home late. It’s just part of the process.”
It’s a process that has gone well for Scarnecchia for more than three decades, and he expects it will continue moving forward.
“Ted’s like a lot of guys we’ve had around here,” he added about Karras. “He is a good worker, he’s a tough guy, he has character … maybe he doesn’t have quite the skill of some guys but you’re going to get everything this guy has and that’s all we care about. We’ll be all right.”