Can Solder fill into the Crumpler role?

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Can Solder fill into the Crumpler role?

By Rich Levine
Standing Room Only

The most interesting question surrounding the Pats offensive line isnt really about the offensive line.

After all, the five guys protecting Brady are who they are: Logan Mankins is one of the best in the league. Sebastian Vollmer isnt far behind. Dan Koppens seen better days, but hes still reliable with a set of hands that Brady trusts (and yes, I felt as uncomfortable writing that last part as you felt reading it).

Is Brian Waters past his prime? Sure, but at 34, hes also made the Pro Bowl in two of the last three seasons, and in the one season he didnt (2009), he was named NFL Man of the Year. Plus, if you care about this sort of thing, Waters was No. 67 on the NFL Networks countdown of the best 100 players from last season. By comparison, Jerod Mayo was No. 62. (Mankins was No. 39, Wes Welker was No. 50, Darius Butler was No. 5,007.) I have no idea why an offensive lineman is wearing No. 54 for the Patriots. I have no idea why anyone is wearing No. 54 for the Patriots. But Im fairly optimistic about what Waters can do.

On Bradys blindside, for the eleventh straight (and probably final) season, is Matt Light a guy whos . . . well, Matt Light. At this point, you know what he brings to table and you fear what he lacks, but for any insecurities that have grown over these last few years, give him this: Bradys only truly been injured once during Lights decade-plus on the job, and that (aka Bernard Pollard) had nothing to do with Light. All things considered, hes kept Brady safe, and I think he can do it for one more year. More importantly, so does Belichick.

So there you have it. Now back to that interesting question from the top of the page, the one that doesnt necessarily have to do with the offensive line (but obviously still does or I wouldnt be writing about it):

How will the Pats be affected by the loss of Alge Crumpler?

Despite making only six catches, Big Alge (in this case, pronounced Alj) was an unsung hero in last seasons resurgence. Hes one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. So who will fill in?

We have to assume that the newly acquired Gronk (Dan) will assume some of that responsibility. But and I know Im not the first one to suggest this Id love to see the Pats mess around with Nate Solder in the Crumpler role.

On one hand, hes the left tackle of the future, so maybe messing around is a little careless. But on the other, couldnt you totally see Belichick trying to pull this off? First of all, Solders a converted tight end, so you know the fundamentals are there. Second, hes an absolute freak of an athlete. Nate was a three-sport athlete in high school, so you get some idea of his athletic ability there, Belichick said of Solder after the draft. And certainly when you watch him play, you watch him pull, you watch him run, you watch his athleticism, for a big guy, he moves well. Hes pretty light on his feet, and I think you see that all the way through.

Third, its not like the Pats will suffer from Solders inability to get downfield of Crumplers six catches last season, only two were for more than four yards.

Incorporating Solder into that role would not only provide the Pats with the perhaps the most devastating offense line in the game, it will also give the rookie Solder consistent reps (instead of merely in the scattered fill-in role), get him accustomed to the NFL schemes and adjusted to the real NFL game. That way, hes better prepared to take over next season and insure that the twilight of Tom Bradys career is spent racking up stats (and, of course, rings) and not pulling turf out of his nostrils.

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that stunts like Antonio Brown’s Sunday night video are the kind that get good players shipped out of town.

“He's a great player, respected largely in the locker room but incidents such as this don't help him in that regard,” said Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and others at a Tuesday press conference in Pittsburgh. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team. Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.” 

Tomlin, who referred to the Patriots as “a--holes” after the Steelers beat Kansas City in a Divisional Playoff game, apologized for his profanity and the other off-color comments made in the 17-minute broadcast.

“Like to say the language on the video is regrettable, by me and by others,” Tomlin stated.” That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and interactions between us. As a parent, as a member of the community I take that very seriously. I issue an apology in that regard.”

Tomlin added that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect on the game, on the Patriots, on the Steelers. Game is too big.”

Returning to Brown – who has yet to address why he thought this was a great idea – Tomlin said, “It was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league policy. He has to grow from this. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented and those things get minimized with incidents like this."
 

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

After speculation and “Do it; you won’t” cries from Patriots fans as to whether Roger Goodell would show his face at Gillette Stadium for the AFC Championship, we’ve now got our answer: When the Patriots and Steelers kick off Sunday in Foxboro, the commissioner will be 1,045 miles away. 

Goodell will reportedly attend the NFC Championship Sunday in Atlanta, continuing his absence from Patriots home games since the start of Deflategate. For those inclined to call it merely a coincidence, Goodell was in Atlanta last week for the Falcons and Seahawks. This will be two straight weeks of Atlanta -- with a trip to Kansas City for Chiefs-Steelers mixed in -- and still no New England. 

Tom Brady, whom Goodell suspended for four games over the ball-deflating scandal, was asked on WEEI Monday about the possibility of Goodell attending a game in New England. 

“He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do,” Brady said on Kirk and Callahan. “If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come.”

Asked if he wanted Goodell at the game, Brady replied, “He can go wherever he wants to go. Whoever is at the game is at the game.”

Equally popular as the will-Goodell-ever-go-back-to-Gillette discussion has been that of how Patriots fans would react. Last week, something of a light feud between Michael Felger and Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy took place over what kind of behavior towards the commissioner is acceptable. 

That all remains a moot point, however, as Goodell won’t need to worry about being berated, spit on or anything else. Any of that will continue to be put off for as long as he stays away from Gillette.