News of veteran offensive lineman Robert Gallery's retirement has some shock value, although those who have watched in training camp would probably agree he was going to have a hard time cracking the 53-man roster.
So in that sense, it's not as if the Patriots are suddenly in a worse spot than they were with Gallery on the roster. Gallery, who gave coach Bill Belichick everything he had throughout the offseason and into training camp, was working mostly at left guard.
A few thoughts:
1. In the perfect Patriots world, starting left guard Logan Mankins comes off the physically unable to perform list, Dan Connolly is at center and veteran right guard Brian Waters reports to camp.
2. If Mankins isn't ready and Waters doesn't report for the season, there are a number of combinations the Patriots could employ that have center/guard Dan Connolly, center Dan Koppen, center/guard Ryan Wendell, center/guard Nick McDonald and/or guard Donald Thomas as part of the interior mix. Those are the next players in line, with Connolly the top talent of the group. All have starting experience in the NFL, so it's not as if the cupboard is bare. But it's not the desired result.
3. Veteran center Koppen has had a tough time in one-on-ones in training camp. Have to keep an eye on him in preseason to see if it's simply getting his legs back under him after missing most of the 2011 season, or perhaps something greater.
4. Recapping what colleague Field Yates wrote on Friday: "Veteran offensive lineman Robert Gallery has had no shortage of reps throughout training camp, but he’s struggled. From this vantage point, his athleticism seems to have diminished sharply, and he’s getting caught high in his stance from the snap. That’s preventing him to play from a stance in which he can be mobile enough to mirror his opponent. Competitiveness and toughness have never been an issue with Gallery, but his ability to get his hands on his defender and keep up with his rush has been below average so far."
5. That's why when you read Field Yates' observations from training camp, you should know it's coming from a credible set of eyes.