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Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Ojinnaka trade & young linemen

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka, acquired in a trade from the Falcons on Sunday, was thrown right into the mix at the Patriots' Tuesday practice. He was the top reserve tackle, replacing Sebastian Vollmer on the right side.

"It's definitely different from where I was," Ojinnaka said after the workout. "It's much faster here."

Ojinnaka's arrival, and the Patriots' willingness to part with a no-strings-attached undisclosed draft choice to acquire him, seems to reflect the coaching staff's view that some of their young linemen aren't ready to emerge, or perhaps have regressed.

Ojinnaka's skill set is similar to 2009 fifth-round draft choice George Bussey, as both are tackle-guard types. So Ojinnaka's arrival seems to put Bussey -- who looked like he had started strong in camp as the second-string left tackle before sustaining a leg injury -- in jeopardy of a roster spot.

Fourth-year tackle Mark LeVoir might also be in trouble, while tackle Thomas Welch, a seventh-round draft choice, simply might need more time to develop before the coaching staff makes its final evaluation. 

Meanwhile, the center/guard competition has become a bit clearer, with second-year player Ryan Wendell ahead of 2009 fourth-round draft choice Rich Ohrnberger, 2010 sixth-round draft choice Ted Larsen and veteran Eric Ghiaciuc as the top reserve.

Because Ojinnaka can also play guard, his arrival would seem to put Ohrnberger in jeopardy, while Larsen simply might need more time to develop before the coaching staff makes its final evaluation.