Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Rookie center Bryan Stork sidelined

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are holding their sixth practice of training camp Wednesday morning, and rookie center Bryan Stork is not present.

Stork, the fourth-round pick out of Florida State, is competing for a starting job with incumbent Ryan Wendell and veteran Dan Connolly. He appeared to suffer a lower-leg injury midway through Tuesday’s practice and walked off with members of the athletic training staff and did not return.

Bryan Stork
Rookie Bryan Stork is competing for the starting center job with Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly.
A potential extended absence from Stork (6-foot-4, 310) in training camp could significantly alter the competition at center, which is one the team’s most important position battles in camp.

Speaking in general terms in his Wednesday morning news conference, Bill Belichick touched on how missed practice time in training camp can be extremely tough for young players to recover from.

“With the limited number of practices we have now, relative to what we had in the 80s when I was with the Giants -- we were in the 50s number of practices before the first game -- now we’re at half that, maybe a little less,” Belichick said. “So if a player with no experience isn’t able to participate and misses two weeks, 5, 6, 8, 10 practices whatever it is, that’s like missing half of training camp. It’s a lot of ground to make up.”

With Stork not on the field, Wendell (6-2, 300), Connolly (6-4, 305) and first-year player Braxston Cave (6-3, 305) will likely take the bulk of the center repetitions.

A few other notes and sound bites from Belichick and the Patriots: