By: Jake Mackey
Without a doubt, the worst position on the field for the New England Patriots during the 2015 season was the offensive tackle position. The position and the offensive line in general lead to the teams demise in Denver in the AFC Championship when Tom Brady was hit more times than any quarterback had been hit in nine years. However, players were added and will be returning from injury in 2016. So without further a due here is my 2016 Patriots offensive tackle preview:
Nate Solder: The six-year veteran is coming off a season which was cut short in only four weeks due to a torn bicep. As it turns out, Solder’s absence caused the offensive line to unravel. Players from other positions were plugged in at Solder’s spot and struggled greatly. Solder of course is no Joe Thomas or Trent Williams, but he is reliable. Offensive lineman are like safeties; the only time you should notice them is when they mess up. The only times you remember Solder is when Greg Hardy puts him on roller skates, but for the most part he keeps Tom Brady on his feet and not on the turf.
Sebastian Vollmer: The leader of the Patriots offensive line had a rough 2015 campaign. For the most part he had to play on the left side due to Solder’s absence, where he struggled. Going into year number eight and the final year of his contract expect Vollmer to have a solid season barring injuries to himself and Nate Solder once again. If the Patriots have their two starting tackles in tact, the line as a whole should be solid.
Marcus Cannon: Where do I start. Marcus Cannon was absolutely horrendous in 2015 at both guard and tackle. He started eight games, and his most notable one had to be the AFC Championship when Von Miller made him look foolish time after time whiffing on blocks. I was one of his biggest defenders before last season, but after that performance I was ready to see him leave Foxborough. Now with Dante Scarnecchia back, the man who drafted him, he is staying put. Lets hope coach Scar can bring the best out of him if there is any. If anyone can do it, it is Scarnecchia.
GIF Credit: SBNation.com, NFL.com)
Cameron Fleming: The third-year player out of Stanford has certainly had an up-and-down career thus far. In 2014 he served primarily as a tight end in the jumbo package when the offense was going run heavy. In 2015, injuries across the offensive line forced Fleming to be plugged in as a starter in multiple games, and that did not go so well. In 2016 he should play in his more comfortable role as a fill-in where he belongs.
LaAdrian Waddle: The fourth-year veteran last season was one of the only bright spots on the Patriots offensive line. He came in late in the season and filled in at tackle, and surprisingly was effective. The question now is if he can maintain that success long-term. Don’t be surprised if the team looks to trade Sebastian Vollmer if Waddle has a solid preseason and training camp.