Last month, the Patriots drafted Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn in the first round to help replace Nate Solder. Former Patriots lineman Matt Light believes filling the void will be a tall task.
“As far as fans, and how they view this season with respect to the loss to a guy like Nate, Nate’s not a guy you can just replace. No. 1, because he’s a ridiculously large mammal,” Light said of the 6’8″, 325-pound Solder, who is now with the Giants (via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss). “From the first time I met him, I thought, ‘Man, this just shouldn’t be right that big guys like this are designed the way they are.’ No fat. Runs like a deer. Got the reach and wingspan of a vulture. The guy is just unbelievably talented in so many ways, and he’s smart, a cerebral player. You don’t replace a guy like that overnight.”
In addition to Wynn, the Patriots also have veteran Trent Brown after their trade with the Niners as well as veterans LaAdrian Waddle and Matt Tobin to try at left tackle. Marcus Cannon remains with the squad, but offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia says he’ll continue to man the right side. Those four players have their work cut out for them, but Light feels that they might be able to do an adequate job.
“Its been done before. They survived me going through that first year of being lost in so many ways and trying to figure out things on the run,” said Light. “I would say this, for all the fans out there, it’s been documented but I’m not sure it’s been appreciated as it should be, but the work Dante does and the work he puts into the offseason — and the work he puts into the young guys that are coming into the organization and how he motivates those guys and pushes them to be in the best position possible to play the game — I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to prepare the guys he thinks are the best to take the field….Definitely something to watch, but I feel as those guys will be ready to roll and be prepared.”
Here’s more from the AFC East:
- Next week marks a big milestone for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Dolphins doctors, coaches and the QB will meet soon to decide how much work the quarterback will do during OTA sessions that begin on Tuesday and run into mid-June. The expectation is Tannehill, who missed the last month of the 2016 season with a partially ACL tear and all of last season with a complete tear, will be able to participate with little or no limitations, sources tell Salguero. But, even if doctors give him the go-ahead, coaches could still opt to take it easy with Tannehill in an effort to keep him healthy and get extra reps for backups Brock Osweiler and David Fales.
- After the draft, there was some speculation that the Jets were hoping to land Baker Mayfield at No. 3 overall rather than Sam Darnold. A detailed look at the Jets’ path to Darnold by Albert Breer of The MMQB paints a different picture. After watching Darnold throw in April, Jets VP of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger told boss Mike Maccagnan “If he’s there [at 3], take him.” On draft night, Maccagnan was in disbelief when Mayfield went No. 1 to the Browns and the Giants selected running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2, allowing the Jets to select Darnold. Early on in the draft process, few would have guessed that Darnold would be available at No. 3, and the Jets feel lucky to have him. On draft night, Heimerdinger turned to Maccagnan and said, “You have a horseshoe up your ass.”