School starts early for rookie Solder


School starts early for rookie Solder

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

MIAMI -- Some NFL rookies get start when they're good and ready. Others don't have the luxury.

When the Patriots' injury report came out and Sebastian Vollmer was ruled out because of an ailing back, the egg timer dinged on Nate Solder.

Get in there, Rook.

Bill Belichick did slide the left tackle to the other side for some reps during New England's preseason finale against the Giants, but starting Solder on Week 1 at right tackle wasn't the original game plan.

And he knows that.

"I just feel like I have so much to learn," he said after New England's 38-24 win in Miami. "Going out there, I gave up a bunch of pressures and a sack. There was a lot of emotions, but we need Sebastian out there. He's our starter and we need him back as soon as possible.

"There were some jitters and things going into it. Going in there was a learning process -- every snap -- and I'll continue to learn, because I want to continue to play at a better level because that's just how I am."

The two players have something in common beyond the obvious. Vollmer was also forced to learn under fire, making his first start in 2009 at left tackle to fill in for an injured Matt Light. He's been a starter (excepting injury) ever since.

Now Vollmer is the one sidelined while a rookie is asked to fill the void. And with no timetable set for return, Solder will have to get used to being at Tom Brady's right hand. As will the Patriots.

But it might turn out okay.

Solder faced a daunting challenge in his NFL debut by taking on Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake, who had a league-best 14 sacks last season. And, largely, Solder answered the bell. The Patriots showed confidence in Solder by pushing the offense down his side and he returned the favor with some solid coverage. They also put the Gronkowski brothers (a little Dan, a lot of Rob) and Dan Connolly in his hip pocket for blocking.

"I was getting help from the tight ends and I was getting help from the guards. We were playing a great defensive line. Wake is a great player so we thought that was a great idea.

"Wake's an incredible player. I'm just learning to play with guys like him," Solder laughed. "First game, I'm a young guy. I have a lot to learn."

He'll have to take some notes on Miami's second quarter Brady sack. The Patriots were on the Miami 29-yard line with 17 seconds left to play. It was second-and-20. With Brady in shotgun, Solder ran Wake down to the inside, flushing the Patriots quarterback out of the pocket. Wake picked Brady up on the outside for a one yard loss.

"Wake had some good moves and he was putting them on me," Solder shrugged. "It was a long day for me."

Not the last. Not by a long shot.

Solder's getting schooled every where he turns. After the game, a small media outlet asked the rookie to read something gimmicky on camera -- 'Hi, I'm Nate Solder and you're watching football on Station X.' He obliged, politely but awkwardly.

Brady, who was dressing at the next locker over, shook his head in disgust.

"Just because they ask you to do something doesn't mean you have to say yes," Brady said.

Solder nodded: Lesson learned. Now it's on to the next one.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti.

Bill Belichick says Brad Stevens has given him 'a lot of insight' on coaching

Bill Belichick says Brad Stevens has given him 'a lot of insight' on coaching

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters last week that spending time with Bill Belichick can make you "feel pretty inadequate as a coach."

But Belichick raved about Stevens during a conference call on Sunday. The two spent time together on Friday night for the Hall of Fame Huddle fundraiser to benefit Belichick's foundation, and the Patriots coach explained that he's learned a lot from the Celtics boss.

"Got to know Brad ove the last couple of years," Belichick said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done, taking a young team, a team that we barely knew some of the players on the team, and in a couple of years has built them into a strong team last year and played very competitively in the playoffs. Fun to go over there and watch them.

"Brad and I have talked about a lot of things that are just coaching-related. Obviously the sports are different. I don't know anything about basketball, and he says he doesn't know much about football. It's really not about Xs and Os and that kind of thing. It's more the other parts of coaching: Prepartion, training, team work, team-building, confidence, communication, players and coaches relationships and so forth.

"Obviously we're in the same business in taking more people to training camp than we can keep on a roster, then managing a roster and dealing with things that happen during the year with that roster, whether it's bringing other guys onto the team, trades and so forth. We've chatted about a lot of those things. He's given me a lot of insight.

"I'd say some of the players they get are a little younger than the guys we get on average. Kids that are coming out of college after one year, we get them after three years or four. Just the trans from college to pro which he obviously has a lot of experience with. Coming to the New England area for most players, that's an adjustment, we don't get too many guys from this area. All of those things like that."

Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live


Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live

How do the Patriots handle Sundays after Thursday night games? Bill Belichick says he won't be glued to the television as New England's next opponent, Buffalo, takes on Arizona. But he will be watching and thinking through situations as they play out live. 

"I think for today, we've done preparation work on the Bills in their first two games, so this is one of those rare opportunities where you can kind of watch the game with a little bit of an idea of how you would want to play it or what you would want to do in certain situations," Belichick said in a conference call on Sunday. "Then, obviously not knowing what they'll do, kind of see how that goes, see what they'll do in those situations compared to what you think they're going to do. Or have they come up with something else, or is this situation a little bit different and has that changed their strategy or play-calling or whatever that happens to be?"

One of the elements of the game that Belichick may give a little extra thought to is how the Bills run their offense under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who replaced Greg Roman after Roman was fired following Buffalo's Week 2 loss to the Jets.

"Obviously, with a new coordinator, defensively we'll have to pay attention and see what changes or modifications they will make this week," Belichick said. "That may be an ongoing process. I don't know if they do decide to change things whether they could get it all done this week or maybe it would take a period of time, but we'll kind of keep our eye on that.

"In the end, we'll have the film by the end of the day today so that'll answer a lot more questions than the live part of it will. But the live part of it, I'd say as we're working on the scouting report for Buffalo, you can kind of have that game on in the background, sort of keep your eye on it, and see how it goes. But I wouldn't say we're just glued to the TV because we'll see everything that we need to see in a matter of hours anyway."