Cole Strange Getty 2022 NFL Draft
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The New England Patriots will likely be without a key member of their offensive line to start the 2024 NFL season. Starting guard Cole Strange is expected to miss time at the beginning of the year due to a knee injury he suffered last season, according to NFL Network.

Just how long he will be sidelined is not yet known, but according to the report, he could be out until the middle of the season.

On Monday, Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo gave an update on Strange's recovery.

"He's more of a, let's say, week-by-week or you can go month-by-month if you want to. But he is working hard, he is doing his rehab. Here every day. He is in the meeting room, so I am happy where he is," Mayo said

The 2022 first-round pick suffered the injury in a Week 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last year and missed the team's final three games of the season after being placed on injured reserve in December. He has started every game he has played in, including 17 regular-season games as a rookie.

When Strange went down during the 2023 season, Atonio Mafi, a fifth-round rookie, stepped in to take his place.

New England may have a rookie quarterback next season, depending on how training camp shakes out. After a rocky few years with Mac Jones, the Patriots selected North Carolina's Drake Maye at No. 3 overall, with the hopes that he is their future. Despite the hype around Maye, he has not yet secured the starting job and will be competing with veteran Jacoby Brissett, who the team brought in for his second stint this offseason.

With Strange out, Maye or Brissett may end up having multiple rookies protecting them. At rookie minicamp Layden Robinson was at left guard, and Caedan Wallace lined up that left tackle, per ESPN. Robinson could be the guy to replace Strange while he is sidelined. 

Sidy Sow, a 2023 fourth-round pick, was in at left guard during OTA's on Monday and is another option for the team, as they begin to assemble their offense.

In 2023, Patriots quarterbacks were sacked 48 times, sixth worst in the NFL, for a loss of 323 yards. With the Patriots offense being their weakest spot as of late, protecting the quarterback, especially if it is a rookie, has to become more of a priority. 

The team signed veteran center David Andrews to an extension this offseason. While his experience and presence is significant, the loss of Strange could still be felt. The beginning of the season will feature a quarterback that has either never lined up in the NFL or has not lined up for the Patriots in years and not started a game since 2022, with a new head coach and new staff running the show. Rookie offensive lineman on top of that could make for an adjustment period for this offense.