FOXBORO, Mass. — For the first time in years, the New England Patriots have a starting offensive line.
Now, obviously, they always have a starting offensive line, otherwise it seems highly unlikely quarterback Tom Brady still would be playing at 40 years old. But the Patriots have a very clear-cut starting offensive line with no question marks.
Nate Solder is the left tackle, Joe Thuney is the left guard, David Andrews is the center, Shaq Mason is the right guard and Marcus Cannon is the right tackle. Unless anything completely unexpected happens, that’s who will take the field Week 1 in the NFL kickoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
And they’re featured on the program of the Patriots’ first preseason game.
The Patriots haven’t had the same starting offensive line in two consecutive seasons since 2012-2013. They also had the same starting offensive line year after year from 2006 to 2009. Otherwise, there’s been turnover at the position in every other season Brady has been starting quarterback.
The continuity at the position gives the Patriots’ offense an additional layer of comfort. Communication along the offensive line is immensely important, and the longer five players line up together, the better that becomes.
The Patriots’ offensive line also has high upside. Solder and Andrews are steady presences at left tackle and center, respectively. Cannon was one of Pro Football Focus’ top rated right tackles in the NFL last season. Thuney and Mason combine to be one of the NFL’s most athletic guard combinations and have the upside to be among its best. Thuney has been one of the Patriots’ training camp standout performers, and Mason was the team’s best offensive lineman in the second half of the 2017 season after recovering from a broken hand.
It’s possible the Patriots’ starting offensive line will only stay together for these two seasons, however. Solder is a free agent after the season, and the Patriots drafted offensive tackles Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott.
But for the 2017 season, the Patriots have a strong core in place that should protect Brady and create holes for their multitude of running backs.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images
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