It’s hard enough to replace a New England Patriots legend. It’s even harder when you’re stepping into one of the most important jobs on the team. That is the situation facing the Patriots’ new starting left tackle, Nate Solder. The 2011 first-round pick is entering his second season and first as the full-time protector of quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side. Solder will have the tough task of replacing Patriots legend, Matt Light.
Matt Light was known as one of the best lineman to ever play for the New England Patriots. Light was drafted in the 2nd round in 2001 out of Purdue University. Light was able to make an impact immediately with the Patriots. He started 12 games and played in 14, making sure he protected the extremely important backside of QB, Tom Brady. Light started 153 total games out of a possible 155, showing just how important he was to the organization. Of the 5 Superbowls that the Patriots have played in, Light is one of the only Patriots to start in all 5. Light retired this year after 11 seasons. He started in his fifth Super Bowl last season, capping a great career. Tom Brady called Light, one of the greatest teammates he has ever had. Head Coach Bill Belichick went on to say, “Matt has been the definition of a dependable, durable, consistent player who has held one of the toughest positions in the game for a long time and made it a strong point on our team. It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt for these 11 years.” The future Patriots HOF member, Light was known for his consistency and his ability to defend Brady’s backside from some of the best defensive ends in football. The biggest question is, how will the Patriots replace such a great player? Their answer is Nate Solder.
Solder, drafted by the Pats in the 1st round in 2011, did a little relief work for injured tackle Sebastian Vollmer this past season. Solder did a good job in relief last year. Solder showed good movement and footwork in pass protection, and New England’s elite offense didn’t miss a beat. This year, Solder will be on the left side, which is more challenging. Solder will have the job of protecting the most important man in Foxboro’s blindside. Solder will be facing the best pass-rushers the NFL has to offer. Brady will be 35 in August and needs to take as few hits as possible. Solder was taken in the first round to eventually replace Light. That time came a little sooner than expected, but Solder has to be ready. And I believe he will. Although he was on the right side last year, he still was able to do a great job and keep the top-notch Patriots offense moving. Solder has a tougher task this year but it does not mean he will do a poor job. The Patriots need him and he will step up.