On Tuesday the Patriots designated offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer as active…
Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line
Starters -- LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Brian Waters, RT Sebastian Vollmer.
Backups -- C/G Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, G/T Robert Gallery, G/C Nick McDonald, G/C Ryan Wendell, T Matt Kopa, G Donald Thomas, T Kyle Hix, G Jamey Richard, Jeremiah Warren, T Markus Zusevics.
Though there will be turnover on the line and some injury concerns, the Patriots have plenty of talent up front. With Matt Light having retired after more than a decade protecting Tom Brady's blind side, 2011 No. 17 overall pick Solder takes over at the key spot. Solder was solid as a rookie, mostly at right tackle and has impressive athleticism. He needs to continue to get stronger and will have to raise his game to meet the weekly challenges he'll see on the left side.
Mankins is recovering from ACL surgery and had a noticeable limp while rehabbing this spring, but is expect to be ready for the opener.
Koppen is a former Pro Bowler who re-signed this summer, but will have to beat out Connolly for the job. Koppen missed most of last season with a broken leg, and Connolly stepped in capably, as he's also done at both guard spots in recent years. Connolly got starter money in the offseason and will likely start somewhere along the front.
Waters had a Pro Bowl first season in New England, but sat out offseason workouts and minicamp as he ponders retirement and looks to get a bump in pay from the Patriots. If he shows up, he'll be a starter.
Right tackle is the most unsettled spot. Vollmer was a second-team All Pro there two years ago, but continues to battle back injuries. His durability is a major concern. A year after finishing cancer treatments -- and playing sparingly as a rookie -- Cannon could battle for playing time with the veteran newcomer Gallery. Though likely to be vying for time at right tackle, both players could be an option at guard as well.
McDonald, Wendell and Thomas are all versatile interior backups battling for roster spots, while Kopa is a former practice squadder who coaches hope will develop into something more.
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