TAMPA – Left tackle Nate Solder has had some early struggles during training camp and two preseason games, but position coach Dante Scarnecchia isn’t pushing the panic button. Not even close.
He’s seen a situation like this before.
“I think all young tackles struggle on plays and protections in this league,” Scarnecchia said Wednesday in a rare media interview with reporters. “Just do a little thinking. Who did Matt Light replace?”
When the answer was given by a reporter – Patriots Hall of Famer Bruce Armstrong – Scarnecchia become more passionate about the topic.
“Did any of you think that it was going to be [easy]? Did you think he had any problems with it to start with? Well, hell ya. They all [have] problems,” Scarnecchia said of the Light-to-Armstrong transition in 2001. “It was as painful as it could ever be [with Light]. Just like anything, he got better and became a really good player, ‘one that you can’t replace.’”
While Scarnecchia said that he wished the retired Light was with the team, he’s happy with the options the team has on the roster, specifically Solder.
“I think Nate Solder is a better player today than he was all of last year, so you figure that out. Next question,” said Scarnecchia, providing the type of protection for his young tackle that he asks his players to for quarterback Tom Brady.
Scarnecchia also put his support behind second-year right tackle Marcus Cannon, who has also struggled in training camp and preseason games.
“I think he’s coming along [well]. I think he has some things to learn, like all young tackles have to do,” he said. “I’m pleased with the effort he’s putting forth and the way he’s developing, and we keep chugging away. He has started for us, and if he starts this year, ‘good, let’s go.’ I think he’s a good player.
“Personally, I’m really pleased with the way [Solder and Cannon] are developing. Is it the finished product? No. We have a couple more weeks to get it as good as it can be, and then we’re going to play games.”
Overall, Scarnecchia sees promising signs for the line.
“There is no cliff I’m throwing myself off right now. I’m telling you the truth,” he said. “That glass is half full and filling up. That’s just how I see it.”