The New England Patriots, who are currently in their middle of their 2019 training camp, have 90 players on their active roster at the moment. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s backup offensive linemen.
Name: Ted Karras
Jersey number: 75
Opening day age: 26
Size: 6’4, 305 lbs.
2018 review: Ted Karras’ third season since entering the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice in 2016 looked a lot like his first two: he served as a versatile backup along the Patriots’ interior offensive line, and saw only irregular action because of his role. In the end, however, he made his third trip to the Super Bowl in as many years in the league and earned his second championship ring. 2018 can therefore be considered a success for Karras.
During the regular season, he was active for thirteen of the Patriots’ games and on the field for a combined 171 offensive snaps (of 1,119; 15.3%) as the top depth option on the interior. As such, he started two games — weeks nine and ten against the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans — at right guard in place of an injured Shaq Mason. While a downgrade from Mason, Karras did perform well when called upon.
All in all, the Illinois product surrendered just two quarterback disruptions during the season (1.0 sack, 1 hurry) and also looked good as a run blocker. Due to the quality ahead of him on the depth chart, however, his status as a backup was never in question. Consequently, Karras saw his most regular action in the kicking game while serving as a protector on field goal and extra point attempts.
He played 61 of a possible 453 special teams snaps during the regular season (13.5%), before adding 16 more (of 92; 17.4%) during the playoffs. Speaking of which, Karras appeared on offense only in the divisional round’s blowout victory over the Los Angeles Chargers when he replaced Mason for three snaps. Despite his limited playing time, though, he again proved himself a valuable and reliable member of the Patriots’ offensive line.
2019 preview: The Patriots appear to have six roster locks along their offensive line (seven if you count still injured rookie tackle Yodny Cajuste), but Karras is not one of them. However, anything else but seeing him make the team would be a minor surprise considering his past role and how the team used him in training camp so far: the 26-year-old is the top interior backup, ahead of James Ferentz and fourth-round rookie Hjalte Froholdt.
If he is able to hold onto that role through the rest of training camp and preseason — and there is no indication he won’t — Karras will survive roster cuts. Subsequently, his 2019 campaign should look like his first three in the NFL: he will be a rotational player and see only irregular snaps, but also be the first man up in case one of the interior starters gets injured. Furthermore, he will again be used in the kicking game on a fairly regular basis.