Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'


Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'

By Danny Picard

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; If we didnt learn enough about Nate Solder during Thursdaynights conference call, the Patriots 2011 first-round pick was presented tothe media at Gillette Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Solder walked from the tunnel to an elevated stage at the50-yard line with Robert and Jonathan Kraft. A personalized Patriots jersey wasthen presented to the offensive tackle.

It was then that Robert Kraft told a story that, in a way,summed up what Solder is all about.

Every year, when we come down, I say, Give me a story that I can tell the mediathat we chatted about,' said Kraft. ' Whats special about this connection? AndNate said, Well, in my name, Solder, theres no I. Im a team guy all theway. So that just says it all.

Solder had a 6 a.m. flight this morning, and said that hesbeen living by the minute since he got that phone call from the Patriots onThursday night.

As sleep deprived as he was, Solder wasnt hiding the factthat he was everything a typical New England Patriot stands for. He proclaimedhimself a team guy that leads by example.

By the time everything got wrapped up last night, afterbeing drafted, its been a pretty long day for me, said Solder. I flew outhere, and meeting these coaches, and meeting these owners, has been a realhonor and privilege.

Ive always been rooting for the Patriots, because theyvehad a lot of great years. It hasnt been hard to be a fan of the Patriots.

I think Mr. Kraft was the one that kind of pointed out the impressiverecord that they have here at this stadium, he said. So that was the firstthought that came to mind. They win a lot of games here. They do things righthere.

Solder said he realizes he has a lot of things to improveupon, but wouldnt touch on any specific area, comparing it to adjusting to thecollege game, coming out of high school.

Ive never really paid too much attention to analysts,said Solder. Ive always felt that Im a strong, powerful player, but I alwayshave things to develop and get better at.

Its safe to say that he wont have to improve his huntingskills. Not because hes a great hunter, but because there isnt much huntingin Massachusetts.

Solder had traveled miles and miles while in Colorado, tohunt for elk. But in his hunting career, hes only shot 1 elk, and it happenedto be just a few miles away from his house.

Its funny, because I probably have been hunting for about10 or 15 years, chasing after elk, and Ive only shot one, joked Solder. Sothat tells you how good of a hunter I am, I guess.

And forget football and hunting, Solder nearly playedbasketball in college, at the Dartmouth College. But luckily for him and thePatriots, he choose to stay in Colorado and play football.

I chose football as the route that I would take, saidSolder. And Im so glad that I did, because it was a great five years atColorado, and I love the sport, and Im happy to be here today.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week


Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a familiar face back on the practice field, it appears. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Dion Lewis is expected to begin practicing this week. Lewis has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the regular season. 

Lewis tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins last season, landing him on season-ending injured reserve. He was able to participate on a limited basis during OTAs but then experienced a setback that required surgery before the start of the season. 

Once Lewis hits the practice field, the Patriots have a three-week window to place him on the active roster. The team currently has an open roster spot and could, in theory, activate him as early as this week. 

When healthy last season, Lewis as a dynamic all-purpose back whose quickness allowed him to make defenders miss both in tight spaces between the tackles and in the open field as a receiver. The Patriots have used James White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.