Solder will step up for Light when time comes


Solder will step up for Light when time comes

FOXBORO -- Reports of Matt Light's impending retirement have likely reached Nate Solder's ears. But if the team has had internal discussions of how one tackle's career will impact the other's, Solder isn't saying.

"I don't know what my role is going to be," he told reporters Thursday. "Right now, my mindset is to get better. There's a lot I have to improve on and that's what I'm going to work on right now and improve on."

Little else was expected from the second-year Patriot. Solder said at a March Pop Warner event that he does feel he was brought to New England to be a starter, and that he's excited at the prospect. But Solder's tone was respectfully different with the end of Light's career seemingly around the corner.

"Matt's been great," he said. "He helps me -- he helps me to continue to develop. He knows a lot about the game. He has a ton of experience. It's been really good having him here."

Being compared to Light's 11-year career could daunt even a 6-foot-8, 310-pound Patriot. Experience carries its own weight, after all. Solder said that, despite the fact he's no longer a rookie, he's "still the new guy" in some respects.

Think of the leadership that will be lost with Light's departure.

Solder was reminded of the draft day call he received from Logan Mankins. The then six-year veteran wanted to welcome Solder into the fold and guide the rookie through the acclimation process. Could Solder see himself making such a call if New England drafts another offensive lineman?

"I definitely see Logan as a great leader, and that did mean a lot to me. I'll do what's appropriate. I don't know exactly if that's my duty on this team, but whatever is my role, I'll definitely play it."

One gets the impression Solder is capable of answering the bell. He just plans to wait until it rings.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.