The New England Patriots currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the offseason, we take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with another one of New England’s offseason acquisitions.
Name: Luke Bowanko
Position: Guard / Center
Jersey number: 72
Opening day age: 27
Size: 6’6, 305 lbs.
2017 review: After struggling with injuries in both 2015 and 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade offensive lineman Luke Bowanko to the Baltimore Ravens shortly before the start of the 2017 season. In Baltimore, the former sixth-round draft pick served as a depth option behind the starters along the interior offensive line. As such, he only saw offensive playing time in six of the Ravens’ 16 games.
All in all, Bowanko played only 90 snaps (of 1,085; 8.3%) as a rotational center and guard – 59 of which coming during the Ravens’ week 11 game against the Green Bay Packers when he started the contest in place of injured left guard Ronnie Stanley. But while Bowanko’s offensive opportunities were limited, he was regularly used on special teams as a blocker on field goal and extra point attempts: the veteran played a combined 76 kicking game snaps (of 470; 16.2%)
2018 preview: The Ravens did not re-sign Bowanko after his rookie contract came to an end, which gave the Patriots an opportunity to add the veteran in early April. Playing on a one-year, $880,000 contract, the 27-year old will have a chance to compete for a depth job along the team’s interior offensive line. However, Bowanko faces a steep uphill climb to carve out a role as a backup with Ted Karras seemingly ahead of him in the competition.
While Karras was used as the second-string center in last week’s preseason opener, Bowanko saw most of his time with the third unit. Lining up at both left guard and center, he played 31 offensive snaps (of 72; 43%) and recovered a fumble. While displaying his versatility and being solid during the contest, Bowanko failed to seriously challenge Karras for the top backup role along the interior offensive line.
As a result and barring any injury or late-camp spike in performance, Bowanko’s tenure in New England should come to an end in about two weeks. The Patriots do have plenty of depth and talent ahead of him, after all, and will likely move forward with the more experienced Karras and first-round rookie Isaiah Wynn as the backup interior options in 2018.