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Training Camp Talk: Wendell’s Starting Job In Trouble?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 

Ryan Wendell has been Patriots' starting center for every game, each of the past two seasons. Essentially every snap that Tom Brady has received has come from the 6th-year center. One would expect that a consistent starter, like Wendell, would have great job security. That is not the case for Wendell.

Throughout the early stages of 2014 Training Camp new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has experimented with a number of line combinations. Although Wendell is not being shut out of any work, he is being challenged by multiple players. These players include - 9th-year guard/center combination Dan Connolly, rookie center Bryan Stork and even 2nd-year offensive lineman Josh Kline.

Although Wendell has a shot at the starting center spot, it is likely that he will be unseated by one of these three other linemen. Connolly is the most experienced of the group. He spent a majority of the 2011 season playing center, helping lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance. His large contract makes Connolly a likely candidate to stay with the team and, after his play slipped at guard last year, center could be a much-needed change for Connolly.

Stork was the Patriots' 4th Round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and the starting center on the National Championship-winning Florida State team in 2013.Stork has a much bigger frame than Wendell, and has tremendous potential. Stork has been seen working on his snaps with Tom Brady following practices, according to reports. He has also been forced to run multiple penalty laps due to fumbled exchanges between he and Jimmy Garoppolo.

The final candidate, and biggest surprise, is Josh Kline. Kline is a 2nd-year player who saw time at guard due to injuries in 2013, and played well. Kline has a big frame and a nastiness that helps him in the run game. After playing exclusively guard in 2013, Kline has been seen at guard, center and tackle in Training Camp, according to reports.

All of this competition shows that Wendell's job is in flux. Whether the Patriots look for experience, youth, or potential they have options in every department. The center position is often overlooked, but is quickly becoming the biggest battle in Training Camp. 

 

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