Potential Solder trickle-down effect

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
2:13
PM ET
A few thoughts to consider with word that rookie offensive tackle Nate Solder has been added to the injury report (questionable, concussion):

1. Solder was used as a second/third tight end on 23 snaps last week. He also was the swing tackle, the first option if there was an injury to left tackle Matt Light or right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. If he doesn't play Sunday night, one possibility is for the Patriots to promote rookie tackle/guard Marcus Cannon off the reserve/non-football injury list. That would require a roster move to create a spot for Cannon [Update 5:30 p.m. ET: The Patriots didn't make a roster move on this Saturday, meaning they won't go this route for Sunday's game.]

2. With top reserve center/guard Ryan Wendell also on the injury report (questionable, concussion), the line looks a bit vulnerable from a health perspective. It strengthens the possibility that Donald Thomas, a healthy scratch the last two weeks, could be active Sunday. Thomas would add depth on the interior and also provide insurance if someone like left guard Logan Mankins had to kick outside to tackle in an emergency.

3. If the Patriots had big plans to use Solder as a third tight end, perhaps they consider someone like Thomas in that role, or re-signing pure tight end Dan Gronkowski. A re-signing would require a roster move elsewhere and might not be something the Patriots have the luxury to do. [Update 5:30 p.m. ET: The Patriots didn't make a roster move here Saturday, meaning they won't go this route for the game.]

4. Another possibility is a promotion off the practice squad, where the Patriots have offensive tackle Matt Kopa and interior lineman Nick McDonald. Also, former practice squad tackle Thomas Welch could be a consideration to re-join the team, as he played the role of extra tight end in Oakland on Oct. 2. Welch was waived this week. [Update: The Patriots won't go this route, as they didn't promote anyone Saturday, the final deadline to do so for Sunday's game.]

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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