Discussion

Smarts and savvy carry Pats' O-line

Updated: August 16, 2007, 1:41 PM ET
By Marwan Maalouf
The New England Patriots' offensive line protects one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Tom Brady and opens holes for talented running backs Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris, getting the job done by being technically sound in assignments and technique.

Matt Light
Light
Logan Mankins
Mankins
The starting group is likely to consist of tackles Matt Light and Nick Kaczur, guards Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal and center Dan Koppen, with the trio of Wesley Britt, Ryan O'Callaghan and Russ Hochstein pushing for playing time as well. They comprise a solid, well-coached group that is equally adept at both run and pass blocking.

Whether it's a draw or an inside zone play in the running game, the Patriots' linemen get off the ball well and work their zone combinations well, taking care of the defensive linemen first and then working up to the second level to get to the linebackers as the play develops. Solid combinations make for good movement and allow guys to sustain their blocks for a few seconds. They might give some ground against big, dominating defensive linemen, but are adept at remaining glued to the defender long enough to allow the running back to make a cut.

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