Week 16 X's & O's thought: O-line shuffle?

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
3:30
PM ET
When Nate Solder left the Patriots' Week 15 game, one may have thought that the team would turn to veteran Will Svitek in his place. Svitek has experience at the position, filling in for Sam Baker during the 2011 season while with the Falcons.

Instead, it was Logan Mankins who kicked to left tackle, with rookie Josh Kline -- not Svitek -- taking over at left guard.

There's no definitive word on Solder's status for this Sunday, but if he does sit due to a concussion, it'll be interesting to see how the Patriots handle his absence.

The most likely scenario is perhaps picking up where they left off last week, with Mankins at left tackle and Kline at left guard.

One reason that Svitek may not have been inserted in the game last week is that he may not have had reps playing left guard during practice this season. We saw him work extensively at right guard during training camp, but Mankins held down the fort on the left side.

With a week of practice to prepare for the possibility of playing without Solder, one may wonder if the Patriots will consider shuffling the deck along the line to get their five best healthy linemen on the field.

If they believe Svitek is a superior option to Kline, the Patriots may be able to keep Mankins at left tackle, use Dan Connolly at left guard, and place Svitek at either right guard or right tackle, with Marcus Cannon at the leftover spot.

To be clear: We have no knowledge that the team prefers Svitek to Kline with all things being equal, as it could be that they believe Kline is their best option as a reserve guard.

But, considering it was Svitek taking so many reps with the top unit in training camp, it seems plausible that he could be inserted into the lineup if Solder sits this Sunday.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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