The Patriots’ offensive line was already shorthanded before this weekend, with center David Andrews, the most important piece of their unit, on injured reserve with a thumb injury.

Then, one by one, the hits kept coming.

Backup center James Ferentz tested positive for COVID-19 this week, and starting right guard Shaq Mason was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Saturday. If that wasn’t enough, starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor was hurt and left early in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, forcing the offensive line into even more of a tailspin.

The Patriots looked all out of sorts in Sunday’s loss, and the offensive line was emblematic of that. It was like playing musical chairs across the line, with just about everyone changing positions on the fly to plug in holes. And with a lack of practice time over the last two weeks to develop any kind of chemistry, it provided almost impossible circumstances for a unit that has mostly formed reliable continuity over recent years.

“It was a big challenge,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Playing without guys, getting guys hurt, moving them around, had some guys that haven’t played together much, haven’t practiced together much, so we need to get on the field. We need to practice. We need to develop some continuity as a team, but especially there.”

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