Solder to see college foe in Denver's Miller

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Solder to see college foe in Denver's Miller

It's been one test after another this season for rookie offensive tackle Nate Solder. Last week, he helped the Patriots stop Redskins pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. The week before that it was Indy's Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. And when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a foot injury against the Eagles, Solder subbed in at right tackle to keep Philly's defensive line away from Tom Brady.

Vollmer's on-again, off-again availability over the course of this season has forced Solder to be a frequent contributor on the offensive line in his rookie year. He's impressed his coaches by how well he's responded.

"You can't say enough about what Nate's done as a rookie," Pats offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said Tuesday. "Being coached by Dante Scarnecchia is a big deal, too. Being under his guidance right away helped. He came in and was able to be a productive guy right away as a rookie. We put a lot on his plate. We ask him to know different parts of the game-plan, obviously, and he's done a good job and fits in to that whole group of veterans."

When Solder isn't in at tackle, he has chipped in on the Pats' offense as a blocking tight end or as a fullback.

His athleticism and versatility will be put to the test again against the Broncos. If Vollmer continues to miss time, Solder will have to hold his own against against Denver linebackers Von Miller and Elivs Dumervil.

Miller, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, already has 11.5 sacks.

"Both those guys, Miller and Dumervil, those guys are explosive guys that have different rush techniques," O'Brien said. "Both have great food speed. They're a fast defense overall . . . Getting used to the speed of the game as it relates to those two guys and the rest of the defense will be a challenge, especially on the road with the crowd noise and all those things."

Solder may be one of the least experienced players on the Pats offensive line, but he may adjust to Miller's speed quicker than anyone else simply because he's seen it before. As a junior on Colorado University's offensive line in 2009, Solder played against Miller while Miller played for Texas A&M.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the Patriots watched the tape of Solder blocking Miller before this year's draft. It was Solder's second season playing as a tackle after arriving at the Boulder campus as a tight end. And though Miller finished the game with five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, the Patriots liked Solder enough to make him the 17th overall pick last spring.

Judging by how much Solder has played this season, the Patriots aren't regretting the decision.

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week. 

"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."

Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.

"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."

Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."

"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."

Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.

"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."