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Week 1 Patriots vs Steelers: The Value and Loss of Bryan Stork

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The New England Patriots are squaring off against the Pittsburgh Steelers and they could be without their starting center. How does that affect the team?

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Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $1,000,000 fantasy football league in week 1. The Top 46,000 teams win cash with $100,000 paid to first place. Join now!

The New England Patriots have been practicing without starting center Bryan Stork due to his battle with a concussion. The Herald's Jeff Howe has reported that Stork has passed his concussion protocols, and will pass them again before practicing and playing this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But what happens if Stork is unavailable to play this upcoming Thursday?

Probably not as much you might think. The Patriots have Ryan Wendell, the team's former starting center, waiting in the wings in case Stork isn't able to fly (editor's note: sorry), and the success of rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson will be more important for the overall performance of the offensive line.

Of Tom Brady's 19 games last season, the rookie Stork played over half of the game's snaps 12 times. After Week 4, any time Stork missed the game he was replaced by Wendell and Josh Kline would step in at guard. Here are Brady's splits:

Stork? Yes No
Cmp 296 170
Att 444 273
Cmp% 66.7% 62.3%
Yds 3183 1847
Y/A 7.17 6.77
TD 27 16
INT 11 2
PR 97.5 98.6

This means that Tom Brady's passer rating, disastrous opening four weeks and all, was actually superior with Stork on the sideline than on the field. While the numbers aren't saying that Stork is a net loss on the field, they do support that the Patriots, with Wendell and Kline on the roster, will likely be fine regardless of Stork's availability on Thursday.

Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $1,000,000 fantasy football league in week 1. The Top 46,000 teams win cash with $100,000 paid to first place. Join now!