What will Patriots do if Nate Solder is out for season?

October 14, 2015 - 9:09 am
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[caption id="attachment_98983" align="alignright" width="400"]Without Nate Solder, Mike Williams and Sebastian Vollmer could play an even larger role when it comes to protecting Tom Brady.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Without Nate Solder, Mike Williams and Sebastian Vollmer could play an even larger role when it comes to protecting Tom Brady. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)[/caption] The loss of left tackle Nate Solder for the year will force the Patriots to get creative on the left side of their offensive line. The first inclination for New England fans would be to default to the idea of veteran Marcus Cannon filling his position. After all, he's the lead swing tackle on the depth chart, and he saw the bulk of the snaps in Solder's place after Solder went down against the Cowboys. "Marcus has always played well for us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday morning of Cannon, who has played guard and tackle in his time in New England. "Two years ago when he was in for [Sebastian] Vollmer, last year the opportunities that he had early in the year, particularly at tackle, and then this year he's played in every game, played a number of snaps in all of our games, so he's always done a good job for us when he's been in there. I'm glad we have him." At the same time, the Patriots have other options. The first one involves moving right tackle Sebastian Vollmer from right tackle to left. The veteran is the senior member of the New England offensive line, and does have some experience on the left side, including five starts there as a rookie when he filled in for an injured Matt Light. Vollmer's steadiness and consistency over the course of his career could help recalibrate the offensive line and at least minimize some of the potential issues that could arise from the loss of Solder. Two other options include the promotion of Cameron Fleming from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, or leaning more on two-tight end sets with the inclusion of tackle-turned-tight end Michael Williams. As a rookie last year, Fleming got plenty of work at the tackle spot, and could be asked to take on a greater role now that Solder is on the shelf either as the new backup swing tackle or a part-time starter at either spot, depending on what the Patriots want to do with Solder. And Williams has shown up frequently in jumbo sets as an extra offensive lineman, and while he's made the move to tight end, his tackle skills certainly could be put to the test with Solder on the shelf. Finally, expect New England to put an even greater emphasis on having the quarterback Tom Brady get the ball out as fast as possible to try and nullify the opposing pass rush. While Brady has managed to get pretty good protection over the course of the first four games of the season (the first half of the Dallas game notwithstanding), a large part of that is because of the quarterback's quick release time. Expect that to be an even bigger focus going forward. Regardless, the Patriots offensive line has faced several challenges over the last year-plus when it comes to finding the right personnel, and the loss of Solder will be another daunting task for the group to deal with. It will be interesting to see how it responds. DraftKings DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.