Friday, May 18, 2012
Pressure point: Patriots
By James Walker
Examining who faces the most challenging season for the Patriots and why.
It's hard enough to replace a New England Patriots legend. It's even harder when you're stepping into one of the most important jobs on the team.
That's the situation facing the Patriots' new starting left tackle, Nate Solder. The 2011 first-round pick is entering his second season, and his first as the full-time protector of quarterback Tom Brady's blind side.
Solder did a good job in relief of injured right tackle Sebastian Vollmer last year. Solder showed good movement and footwork in pass protection, and New England's elite offense didn't miss a beat. This year, he'll be replacing three-time Super Bowl winner Matt Light on the left side, which is more challenging. Light retired this year after 11 seasons. He started in his fifth Super Bowl last season, capping a great career.
Now, Solder will be facing the best pass-rushers the NFL has to offer. Brady will be 35 in August and needs to take as few hits as possible. Solder was taken in the first round to eventually replace Light. That time came a little sooner than expected, but Solder has to be ready.