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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Patriots leftovers from MNF crew

By Mike Reiss

A few leftovers from today's ESPN conference call with the "Monday Night Football" crew:

1. Impressed with Solder. Both Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden have liked what they've seen from first-round draft choice Nate Solder. "I've been very impressed. There's no question that for a young tackle you see incredible technique. A lot of times when guys make the adjustment to the National Football League, you see the poor mechanics, you don't see the sets that you have to make to be consistent at the NFL level. What Solder brings is kind of a fundamental technique that is very sound, and that leads to a long career in the NFL." Gruden added that Solder, like all rookies, was hurt by the lockout, calling him a work in progress. "His size is unique. Not many tackles play that are that tall (6-foot-8). Fortunately, he's got one of the best offensive line coaches in football to assist him (Dante Scarnecchia).

2. Ochocinco & Haynesworth. Both Jaworski and Gruden dismissed any speculation that Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth might not make the Patriots' roster. "I've been looking at some Albert Haynesworth plays from last year, and you can find 20 plays of [him] dominating football games. Dominating. I'm talking about taking a center and throwing him in the quarterback's lap, dominating the interior line of scrimmage. When he has his 'A' game going, he can take over a football game. The question is, 'Is he going to lay that game out there for Bill Belichick?'" On Ochocinco, Jaworski still believes he has something left in the tank, saying he's "still a very gifted receiver. ... I don't think he's the player he was three or four years ago, but he's a guy that certainly can give you the possession receptions. He's a very savvy route runner. He understands coverage, and he still has very good hands."

3. Gruden's perception of Patriots. While acknowledging that Haynesworth and Ochocinco would likely be on the Patriots' roster, Gruden pointed out that not all veteran acquisitions have worked out for the team, pointing to receiver Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor. But he still complimented the Patriots' approach. "Coach Belichick likes to take veterans from other teams [but] I know how they do it there; they're going to keep the guys that perform," he said. "One thing I've discovered, which I think is the greatest compliment I can give New England, I don't think they care who they play [based on status]. They've proven they're going to play the best players."