BOURNE, Mass. — New England Patriots starting left tackle Nate Solder isn’t a fan of the spotlight.
Perhaps that comes from his years as an offensive lineman, a role in which players rarely make headlines in New England unless quarterback Tom Brady finds himself on his back too frequently.
When Solder revealed to ESPN’s Mike Reiss that he was diagnosed with cancer last April, he wanted attention to be turned toward the disease, not himself. Solder stressed that Wednesday as he and Patriots teammates volunteered at Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzard’s Bay, running the children of servicemen through football drills.
“I’d rather it be not anything about me,” Solder said. “It’s more about the awareness it creates.”
The entire Super Bowl XLIX 2014 Patriots team didn’t even know of what Solder went through and briefly kept him out of the Patriots’ offseason program.
“I don’t think they all were aware,” Solder said. “Some were aware — personal friends or people who were in the know. Amazing support from my teammates. From all sides, it was really like a family away from family.”
Solder now is entering the final year of his Patriots’ rookie contract, after the team picked up his 2015 option last spring, and he could be playing next to a new left guard for the third consecutive season. Logan Mankins, the Patriots’ starter from 2005 to 2013, was traded last summer, and Dan Connolly, the 2014 starter, has yet to be re-signed and still is a free agent. Solder understands turnover is part of the business of the NFL.
“There are always going to be guys not there,” Solder said. “If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the team changes every year. So you make adjustments and you move on.”
It took the Patriots a few weeks to get comfortable playing without Mankins and with new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo last season, but they ultimately won the Super Bowl, so the unit knows any challenges it faces in 2015 can be overcome.
Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images