When Ted Karras signed a one-year free agency deal in March to return to the New England Patriots, the expectation was that he would replace David Andrews as the team’s starting center. Andrews, a fellow unrestricted free agent, appeared headed to the Miami Dolphins, so bringing an experienced players such as Karras back into the fold made perfect sense.
The problem was, Andrews never actually left New England. Instead, he returned to the team on a new four-year contract that would keep the center position in his able hands for the foreseeable future.
Karras, on the other hand, suddenly found himself on a team that was now set at all five offensive line positions. Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown would man the tackle spots, with Andrews being flanked by guards Michael Onwenu and Shaq Mason. All that was left for Karras was the number one backup role along the interior.
For the first three weeks of the season, nothing changed for him. Then, in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he moved into the left tackle spot to replace Onwenu down the stretch. The following week versus the Houston Texans he received his first starting opportunity, replacing an injured Shaq Mason — a role he also held one week later when the Dallas Cowboys came to town.
Mason eventually returned, but the Patriots’ offensive line remained a work in progress: Brown was out since Week 1, while Wynn and Onwenu both missed time on the Covid-19 reserve list. Entering their Week 7 game against the New York Jets, the Patriots therefore went with a new starting lineup — their league-leading fifth of the season.
Wynn and Onwenu were now asked to play the left and right tackle roles, respectively, with Karras joining Andrews and Mason on the interior. Starting his first ever game at left guard, the 28-year-old — just like the entire unit — was impressive. Look no further than the game tape to find actual proof of that:
We aren't talking about Ted Karras nearly enough pic.twitter.com/vXU53PSTde— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) October 27, 2021
The 10 plays shown here are just a fraction of his output in Week 7 — Karras manned the left guard spot for all 76 offensive snaps. However, they show just how well he performed despite having limited in-game experience at the position: he played an important role in the Patriots finishing the 54-13 blowout win over the Jets with their best rushing performance on the year.
Not counting backup quarterback Brian Hoyer’s kneel-downs in the late fourth quarter, the Patriots carried the football 29 times for 151 yards as well as 4 touchdowns. Their 5.2 average was impressive, and while the ball carriers deserve praise for their performance so do the men up front paving the way.
Among them was Karras, who carried out his assignments at a consistently high level. The clip above sees him move defenders back on combo blocks, successfully climb to the second level, and serve as a pull blocker across the formation. He also stood his ground as a pass protector, giving up merely two hurries all day.
Along the way, Karras continued to show the technique, vision and physicality you want to see from your starting linemen. That is obviously great news for a Patriots O-line that had its fair share of issues earlier in the season.