Solder reaction after 1st practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- First-round draft choice Nate Solder participated in his first practice with the Patriots Thursday after signing a four-year contract earlier in the day, then met with reporters afterwards.

Solder had missed the first seven days of training camp as the sides couldn't come to a contract agreement. He was happy to put that behind him and take the field with his new teammates, at one point lining up next to starting left guard Logan Mankins because the team's returning starter at left tackle, Matt Light, did not practice.

"It was great. It's been a while," Solder said of practicing, while noting the difference between college and the NFL. "There are some great players out here. It's a challenge definitely."

Solder described his teammates as "warm and welcoming" while specifically mentioning offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell as "two guys who have helped a ton."

Solder moved into the area about a month ago, spending time with some of his new teammates while training with them. He was asked how he spent his time during the contract stalemate.

"I just had to stay in shape and study what I had been taught on the plays beforehand," he said.

Solder didn't elaborate on what kept him out of training camp, preferring to look ahead.

"Things happen, I'm just happy to be here now. I just wanted to get out here and play," he said. "There are great coaches here and that's going to help me get ready to play."

Solder is also looking forward to learning from veterans like Matt Light and Logan Mankins.

"I have a ton to learn and to have those guys to teach me is a fantastic opportunity. I couldn't be happier about having those veteran guys," he said.