Solder ready for tough task in Indy DEs

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Solder ready for tough task in Indy DEs

FOXBORO -- Nate Solder has been watching Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney since middle school, admiring Freeney's ability to blow past offensive linemen and sack quarterbacks. Now, ten years into Freeney's career, he's still one of the most feared defensive ends in football, and Solder may be charged with stopping him.

"There's so many guys I watched (growing up) and he's one of them," Solder said. "He's a guy that's been doing a lot of great things for a long time."

For Solder, there will be no time Sunday to admire Freeney the way he did as a teenager. According to Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardi, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury. It's likely Solder would be the one to replace him.

Whether the rookie first round draft pick faces off with Freeney or the Colts' other Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis, he knows he'll have his work cut out for him.

"They're real professionals," Solder said. "They have a litany of different moves. They play extremely hard. They're gifted athletes. All of the above."

The Patriots have faced a stable of elite pass-rushers this season, including the Chiefs' Tamba Hali, the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware and the Dolphins' Cameron Wake. Playing against them and studying their moves this season has given Solder a crash course in protecting the quarterback.

Against the best of the best, Solder said good footwork is paramount.

"I think technique is the most important thing, especially against the best ones," Solder said. "You have to be at a high level of technique at all times."

Solder's veteran teammates have helped teach him the other aspects of the game to prepare him for games like Sunday's.

"All the O-line has been helping me a ton," he said. "The preparation, in-game mentality. All those sort of things are things I've learned from them."

The rookie first round draft pick has shared time with Vollmer at tackle this season, but lately he's been used in other spots, playing as a blocking tight end as well as a fullback. Those spots weren't totally foreign to him as he spent time at the University of Colorado as a tight end, at times motioning in the backfield or lead-blocking for a running back.

"A lot of it carries over and that's kind of what I did in college too," Solder said. "A lot of it is muscle memory, and I remember it. But yeah it's not the same, obviously. I'd say I'm more comfortable on the line."

Blocking Freeney or Mathis should be anything but comfortable. Solder, if called upon, will likely have help from tight ends and running backs, but even so, he knows Indy's D-ends pose a challenge.

Will there be a middle school offensive lineman somewhere watching on TV, admiring Solder for how he snuffs out the Colts' studs? Maybe. Maybe not. But if Solder can keep Tom Brady upright -- for the most part -- and the Colts stay winless, the Patriots would take it.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.