It was a make-or-break summer for New England Patriots center James Ferentz this offseason and ultimately, the 30-year-old offensive lineman made it.
Ferentz had run out of practice squad eligibility after last season. So, Ferentz either had to make a 53-man roster or get on with his life. Ferentz said in January he intentionally didn’t have a backup plan even though his mother had been nagging him about it. Otherwise, he might take his foot off the gas pedal.
It didn’t look good for Ferentz after the Patriots traded a sixth-round pick for center Russell Bodine on Aug. 30, one day before roster cuts. Ferentz was indeed released Aug. 31. But six days later, in an unexpected move, the Patriots released Bodine and brought back Ferentz.
He’s been on the 53-man roster ever since, played 11 games and started Week 8 at right guard in place of Shaq Mason. He’ll likely start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs in place of Ted Karras, who suffered a knee injury in Week 13. Karras was filling in for David Andrews, who will miss the entire season with blood clots in his lungs.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have a role,” Ferentz said Wednesday. “It’s been a backup role and whether it’s left guard, center, right guard, it doesn’t really matter to me. My job is to make sure I’m ready to play anything I’m needed to do. I’m just really thankful to have a job.”
Ferentz has had a fascinating career. He was undrafted out of Iowa in 2013 and never caught on with a team that spring. So, he worked at a flooring company for a year and was signed by the Houston Texans in 2014. He spent one season on the practice squad and then joined the Broncos’ 53-man roster for two seasons, one of which Denver won Super Bowl 50.
The veteran O-lineman spent the entire 2017 season on the Patriots’ practice squad, and he started the 2018 season on the scout team, as well. He was promoted to the active roster last November and won another Super Bowl.
Now he’s been on the Patriots’ 53-man roster for all 12 games this season.
“Every week you just kind of put your head down and just focus on preparing,” Ferentz said. “And for me, that’s been a backup role. I’m very grateful for that role. If you’re needed, you just hope that you’re ready to go, and that’ll be the same plan this week again. We’ll see what happens Sunday. And for me, I just need to stay in my routine and make sure I’m ready to go.”
Karras missed practice Wednesday with his knee injury. Ferentz will be ready when called upon. It’s a good thing he didn’t have anything to fall back on if he didn’t make a roster this season. The Patriots would be looking for a center right now.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images