Solder 'hoping and praying' Pats would draft him

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Solder 'hoping and praying' Pats would draft him

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; After catching only three passes for 50 yards in 11 games asa blocking tight end during his redshirt freshman season in 2007, the Coloradocoaching staff approached Nate Solder and said, Youd be an alright tight end,but youd be a great tackle.

The advice paid off with a phone call from Bill Belichickand Robert Kraft on Thursday night, officially making him the New EnglandPatriots first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Solder was the 17th overall pick on Thursday. The offensivetackle got the call while at his familys bed and breakfast in Colorado.

I was hoping and praying that theyd pick me, because, youknow, its such a great organization, said Solder in a conference call.

I didnt know what to expect with this whole process, hesaid. How can you? How can you know? Its all been shocking and surprising.Im just blessed and honored to be a part of it.

Solder said he had no idea what to expect on draft night.And going to New England wasnt anywhere close to a guarantee.

The Patriots had canceled Solders scheduled visit toFoxboro a day before he was supposed to hop on a plane. Instead, Patriotsoffensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia flew out to meet with him, on Monday.

Hes an unbelievable coach, one of the best in the NFL,said Solder. And that was completely obvious when I met with him. And I lookforward to the opportunity to play for him.

Solder said hes only played left tackle in his career as anoffensive lineman, but said he believes in healthy competition, and wants toearn his spot on the roster.

I have a lot to work on, said Solder. And the great thingabout that is, Im a coachable player. And coach Scarnecchia, and coachBelichick, the whole staff, is great to play for.

Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.

Brian Scalabrine: Celtics starters are top-5 starting group

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Brian Scalabrine: Celtics starters are top-5 starting group

When the Celtics starting 5 players are fully healthy they have a record of 23-7. Brian Scalabrine believes they're in the top-5 best starting group in the NBA and that they would've won 60 games if healthy all season.