MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Patriots first-round draft choice Nate Solder aced his starting assignment in the team's 38-24 season-opening win over the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Filling in at right tackle for the injured Sebastian Vollmer, the 6-foot-8, 319-pound Solder held his own against Cameron Wake (14 sacks in 2010) and Co.
Solder's performance was recognized by coach Bill Belichick and others, such as veteran right guard Brian Waters, who played next to him.
"The young kid, man, he’s amazing; He’s phenomenal. I see why he’s a first-round pick," Waters said. "We worked together really well. He went against a really good football player today [Wake], and he held his own. He made it easy, because a lot of times guys seem like they might overdo it because it's a youngster's first time out there. I never felt that way with him. He’s really comfortable and really confident in his abilities. He did a great job of holding his own against a really good football player."
After the game, Solder made it clear that right tackle was Vollmer's spot.
"Sebastian’s our starter and you know that’s the way it is. And you know we need him out there," Solder said, adding that he's "just a young guy with so much to learn."
Solder was asked about his emotions leading into his first career regular-season NFL start.
"I was extremely excited. There were a lot of emotions going through me but I felt well prepared by my coaches," he responded. "I was grateful for the opportunity that I had even though it was not what we wanted with Sebastian going down. But it was a great opportunity that they gave me but we want him back as soon as possible, for sure."
Solder viewed going up against Wake a great opportunity to challenge himself.
"I'm just trying to get to his level," he said. "It wasn't perfect, obviously, I gave up a sack and a couple pressures," he said. "I have a lot to learn."