BALTIMORE – With Nate Solder down, the Patriots are going against one of the NFL’s most aggressive defenses with a left tackle who doesn’t usually play left tackle.
Last Sunday, after Solder left the Dolphins game because of a head injury, Logan Mankins kicked out to left tackle from left guard. Josh Kline, who played two snaps in his career prior to the game, played the final 32 snaps against Miami.
Tom Brady only took one sack last week but there were some nasty pressures he was faced with, including one allowed by Kline on the second-to-last throw of the game to Michael Hoomanawanui.
How Kline holds up inside over the course of the game in unseasonably warm temperatures against the massive interior players the Ravens have line Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody will be a factor in the second half.
Meanwhile, Mankins in space on the edge against Elvis Dumervil or Courtney Upshaw is a chore.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh lauded Mankins this week, saying that when Mankins moves to tackle, “You don’t see drop-off.”
“I don’t think there’s anything Logan Mankins can’t do,” Harbaugh added. “From the first day he got there until now, he’s even a better player than he ever was. He’s tough, he’s physical, he’s just a man in there. I think he can do anything; I don’t see any downside to him playing either one of those positions for them.”
The Patriots’ alternative to moving Mankins outside and putting Kline inside is using utility lineman Will Svitek. Svitek could move to right tackle and Marcus Cannon could switch sides, allowing Mankins to stay put.
Given the import of the game and the Patriots’ preparation style, it won’t be a surprise if we see a variety of combinations out there Sunday afternoon.