Curran: No sizzle, just Solder for Patriots

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Curran: No sizzle, just Solder for Patriots

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

The Patriots took a left tackle. A good, solid left tackle. Nate Solder is a 319-pound plate of broccoli for the program. He's good for them. His next 10 years will likely be spent making sure Tom Brady's retirement years are fairly pain-free, then protecting the blindside of Brady's much-scrutinized successor. "Hes played left tackle and I think that will be his position in the National Football League," Bill Belichick said early Friday morning after the first round of the 2011 draft was put to bed. "I think his position is the one hes been playing. Its still obviously a different level of play and his techniques and there are a lot of things that hell have to improve on. But hes a smart guy, hard-working kid, hes already graduated (from Colorado), hes a good worker, so hopefully hell take the coaching that he gets from our staff and Dante (Scarnecchia, the Pats' offensive line coach) and be able to improve and develop at a position that he has some experience at."And that, as they say, is that. No oohhs, no aaahhhhs, no posters, minimal jersey sales. I appreciate what some people may be wondering: "WHERE'S THE PASS RUSHAHHHHH!?!?!?!?"It's a valid question. Pocket crushers, edge crashers and all manner of havoc-causing front-seven players were on the board in the first round. The Patriots could have jumped up a couple of spots from 17 and gotten North Carolina's Robert Quinn who went to the Rams at 13. Or Ryan Kerrigan who went to Jacksonville at 16. Or simply taken Cam Jordan at 17 (the Cal defensive end went to New Orleans at 24). They spent some time trying to trade down at 17 but nothing materialized. So, in the end,a left tackle to succeed Matt Light and protect the franchise's most valuable commodity was just as strong a need.Wes Bunting of the National Football Posttold me,"Solder is agood fit for New England. His best football is still ahead of him. A little more athlete than football player at this point because he's still learning how to play."You'd have to expect the Patriots to make a pitch to keepLight -- an unrestricted free agent -- for another year or two just to keep the spot warm while Solder develops. Light, judging by 2010, still has good football left in him. When the 28th pick rolled around, you knew the Patriots would again look to deal. And that time they did, sending No. 28 to New Orleans and picking up another first-rounder for 2012 and adding a third second-round pick for Friday. They passed on Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (who went to the hated Jets at 30) and Ohio State's Cam Heyward (31 to the Steelers). But, as Belichick pointed out, "We feel like there are players on the board that will give us good value at our picks that we have tomorrow." Will they use those picks? Specifically No. 33? That's the question. New England will surely get an offer similar to the one they got at 28 -- a first-rounder next year and a fourth second-rounder in 2011. But will they be down with letting so many good players go off the board between 17 and whenever their next pick arrives? That's what the Patriots will weigh between whenever you read this and 6 p.m. Friday evening. Take a front-seven guy -- Justin Houston from Georgia, Da'Quan Bowers from Clemson, Jabaal Sheard, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year from Pitt, Arizona's Brooks Reed -- or trade down again. The Patriots didn't do anything to make your heart race Thursday night. But their priority is to make September through January exciting, not April. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

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Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

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Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.

Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

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Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

Must be Bills week. 

After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.

Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?

"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."

There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday

Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both.