Patriots Notes: Ted Karras Embodies ‘Next Man Up’ In First Start At Center


Nov 19, 2017

Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 33-8 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in Mexico City:

— The Patriots played without two of their starting linemen and did not miss a beat.

LaAdrian Waddle and Ted Karras fared well in place of the inactive Marcus Cannon and David Andrews, respectively, helping keep quarterback Tom Brady upright for much of the game and clearing running lanes for Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead.

The Raiders’ lone sack came when reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack beat fourth tackle Cameron Fleming while Waddle was on the sideline.

Waddle has impressed this season during Cannon’s multiple injury-related absences, but Karras was a bit of a wild card given his lack of experience. The second-year pro had played just nine offensive snaps all season, and Sunday was just his second career start and his first at center.

Plus, Andrews, who missed the game with an illness, had been one the NFL’s best centers through the first 10 weeks of the season, giving Karras large shoes to fill. He proved there was no cause for concern, however, allowing zero sacks, zero quarterback hits and one total pressure in 38 pass block snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Ted did a good job, and L.A.,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters after the game. “We were two guys on the offensive line and obviously some receivers and other positions, but those guys stepped in and played well. Ted always works hard. Nobody spends more time at the facility than he does, training and preparing. He had an opportunity, and I think he stepped up and did the most with it.

“That’s what we needed, and that’s why we have a good team, because we have a lot of guys that do that.”

Brady echoed that praise, also noting the Patriots’ O-line did not commit a single penalty for the second consecutive game. New England committed just two penalties for 10 yards as a team after having just one accepted flag in last week’s win over the Denver Broncos.

“They did a great job to step in like that,” Brady told reporters. “David obviously wished he could have played, but he just couldn’t make it. L.A.’s done a great job. He was battling out there, going against some really good players. It was a great team win — great by the offensive line. They’ve really done a good job, with the penalty situation and really moving the line of scrimmage and so forth. Great protection. And we just have to keep it going.”

— Lewis had perhaps his best game of the season for the Patriots, rushing 10 times for 60 yards while also catching four passes for 28 yards and one touchdown. He continues to cement his status as New England’s No. 1 running back.

Burkhead gained just 16 yards on five carries and also fumbled (the Patriots recovered), and James White had an uncharacteristically quiet game. He was targeted just once and finished without a catch for the first time since Week 8 of the 2015 season.

— After catching his first pass of the season last week, tight end Dwayne Allen caught two more against Oakland for 28 yards. Brady was a perfect 8-for-8 for 79 yards when targeting his tight ends.

— Brady was sublime again Sunday, completing 81.1 percent of his passes (30 of 37) for 339 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. It was his sixth 300-yard passing performance in 10 games this season. He had just five in 12 games in 2016.

There also was this:

Just call him Mr. Worldwide.

— Speaking of international success, the Patriots have been downright dominant in games played outside the United States.

In its three such regular-season contests (one in Mexico, two in London), New England is 3-0 and has outscored its opponents 113-22.

— Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer again relieved Brady late in the fourth quarter, handing off three times to Burkhead on the Patriots’ final possession.

In an unexpected development, Hoyer now has played in two games since the Jimmy Garoppolo trade while Garoppolo has yet to make his San Francisco 49ers debut.

— Though he was sure to stress he’ll “always be a Navy man,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick sported an Air Force sweatshirt during his postgame news conference as a way of thanking the academy that hosted his team last week.

“I just want to give a shoutout and a big thanks to General (Jay) Silveria and his great staff at the United States Air Force Academy for the hospitality and the week that we had there,” Belichick told reporters.

— Sergio Dipp, who became an Internet superstar earlier this year for his memorable sideline debut on “Monday Night Football,” was back in the spotlight Sunday.

As part of his game coverage for ESPN Deportes, Dipp reported live from outside Azteca Stadium during ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

Thumbnail photo via Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
Patriots safety Duron Harmon
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