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Jun 10, 2021; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (50) talks to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during OTAs at the New England Patriots practice complex. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are getting healthier on the offensive line after a COVID-19 issue sidelined a pair of starters.

Left guard Mike Onwenu is expected to be back at practice for the Patriots Wednesday, as reported by ESPN’s Field Yates. Onwenu played 100 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps in the first three games of the 2021 season, but played only 56 percent against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. He missed last Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans due to being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with left tackle Isaiah Wynn.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, between Onwenu and Wynn, one tested positive for COVID and the other was a close contact. Per NFL guidelines, only unvaccinated players have to miss time due to being a close contact.

The Patriots played without four starters on the offensive line last Sunday against Houston, and the unit had arguably its best game of the season. They limited the Texans to one sack and four hits against quarterback Mac Jones, while they averaged 4.2 yards per carry on the ground as a team.

Onwenu, however, is the fourth-highest graded guard in the league on Pro Football Focus (85.2) through five weeks. James Ferentz was elevated from the practice squad to replace him in the Houston game.

  • Tackle Trouble?

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Wynn #76 of the New England Patriots looks on after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Wynn #76 of the New England Patriots looks on after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    It’s unclear what the Patriots’ plans will be with Wynn once he’s ready to return to practice. Wynn has noticeably struggled throughout the season at left tackle, and while the team’s tackle tandem of Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste weren’t perfect, it’s telling that the offensive line played some of its best football overall with them on the field.

    “Yeah, obviously we’ve faced some adversity this season thus far,” said offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo on Tuesday. “It’s of your own making. We have to do a better job up front. I think we all buy into that. I think the players have and did. So it’s probably nice to see a little bit of the fruits of your labor kind of reflect it a little bit. But by no means was it a clean game. I think everybody recognizes that and sees that. There’s ample opportunity to improve on it. And that’s the expectations moving forward.”

    Bricillo said that Cajuste’s “good week of practice” led to him getting the nod at right tackle over Yasir Durant against the Texans. So it sounds like a fluid situation at that position and something to monitor going forward.

  • Mason still sidelined

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots offensive guard Shaq Mason (69) runs off the field against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots offensive guard Shaq Mason (69) runs off the field against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Right tackle Trent Brown was placed on inured reserve in Week 5, so he will sit through at least Week 7 with a nagging calf injury. Right guard Shaq Mason, however, is not on IR yet – but he remained out of practice on Wednesday with an abdomen issue.

    Running back Damien Harris (ribs) and cornerback Shaun Wade (concussion) were also non-participants in Wednesday’s practice. Nine players were listed with limited participation on Wednesday’s injury report.

  • Andrews becomes a vocal leader

    Center David Andrews is now one of only two Patriots to play every offensive snap through five weeks, himself and Jones. As the last man standing among the Patriots’ regulars on the offensive line, and one who generally comes across as more of a “lead by example” type, Andrews appeared to take on a more vocal leadership role than we’ve seen, addressing the team on the sidelines in moments that were released on the team’s Twitter account.

    “I think there’s always a message every week, and it’s something I haven’t been doing for a while, but it’s just always something different,” Andrews told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand Wednesday. “I was thinking about it and just thought about how great of an opportunity we all had as a team and as a unit. It just came out, I guess.”