FOXBORO -- Nate Solder's absence at Wednesday practice does not make for a good start to New England's week.
The starting left tackle suffered a head injury Sunday against Miami when he took a knee to the skull early in the fourth quarter. Though the word "concussion" has not yet been used, it is certainly feared, as it would be his second in as many weeks.
It was veteran guard Logan Mankins who stepped in against the Dolphins. And he may get kicked outside again if Solder is unable to go in Baltimore this weekend.
Which Bill Belichick is OK with. The Patriots coach actually went so far as to say Mankins could play any of five positions on the line.
"Logan has a lot of versatility," Belichick said. "When we watched him [in college] at Fresno it was all left tackle. I think there's no question he could have played left tackle in this league, he could have played for us, but we had [Matt] Light there. We put him into the lineup right away at left guard and he and Light played together for however many years."
New England drafted Solder, Light's successor, in the first round of 2011's draft. At that point it became clear Mankins would stay put right where he was.
"I don't think there was ever a thought from the coaching staff or myself that he couldn't play left tackle, that wasn't it. It was more that we had a left tackle and he could play guard."
Though Mankins' versatility makes the switch look easy, Belichick made a point to say not all players can be shuffled along the line. The example he gave as evidence to the contrary is one he's used before: Matt Light.
Yes, before he was an All-Pro, before he was a three-time Pro Bowl left tackle, the Patriots tried playing him at other positions. And the experiment failed… miserably.
"We drafted as a left tackle, looked at as a right tackle and guard -- two brilliant moves on my part," the coach smiled wryly, "then figured out he was one of the better left tackles in the league for the next decade."
That one worked out in the end.
If Mankins moves to tackle it should only be a temporary change. But for however long he's there, Belichick is confident that will work out too.