Depth issue at OT in spotlight

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
9:40
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the growing likelihood that starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer could miss Monday's season-opener with a back injury, the Patriots are down to two pure offensive tackles -- veteran Matt Light and rookie Nate Solder.

What happens if one of them gets injured during the game?

That's a scenario that coaches have surely prepared for -- they cover all their bases -- and the likely answer brings back memories of a 2005 playoff loss at Denver (the Benjamin Watson-chases-down-Champ Bailey game).

The Patriots were thin at offensive tackle for the playoff game, with Nick Kaczur inactive and Matt Light having been on season-ending injured reserve since the fourth week of the season. That meant Tom Ashworth would play left tackle and Brandon Gorin right tackle. As the Patriots usually do, they dressed a total of seven linemen on game day, and the two backups were guard Ross Tucker and guard/center Billy Yates.

But Ashworth came down ill during warmups and didn't take the field. So when the Patriots warmed up for the game, Logan Mankins kicked out to tackle and Yates moved into the starting lineup.

Spinning it forward, if things unfold as expected at this point, and the Patriots enter Monday night with just two tackles, Mankins would be a logical choice as the emergency tackle option in the event of injury. He played offensive tackle at Fresno State, but has strictly been a guard in the NFL.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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