Starters -- LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Brian Waters, RT Sebastian Vollmer.
Backups -- C/G Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, G/T Robert Gallery, G/C Nick McDonald, G/C Ryan Wendell, T Matt Kopa, G Donald Thomas, T Kyle Hix, G Jamey Richard, Jeremiah Warren, T
Though there will be turnover on the line and some
injury concerns, the Patriots have plenty of talent up front. With Matt
Light having retired after more than a decade protecting Tom Brady's
blind side, 2011 No. 17 overall pick Solder takes over at the key spot.
Solder was solid as a rookie, mostly at right tackle and has impressive
athleticism. He needs to continue to get stronger and will have to
raise his game to meet the weekly challenges he'll see on the left
Mankins is recovering from ACL surgery and had a noticeable limp
while rehabbing this spring, but is expect to be ready for the opener.
Koppen is a former Pro Bowler who re-signed this summer, but will have
to beat out Connolly for the job. Koppen missed most of last season
with a broken leg, and Connolly stepped in capably, as he's also done
at both guard spots in recent years. Connolly got starter money in the
offseason and will likely start somewhere along the front.
Waters had a
Pro Bowl first season in New England, but sat out offseason workouts
and minicamp as he ponders retirement and looks to get a bump in pay
from the Patriots. If he shows up, he'll be a starter.
Right tackle is
the most unsettled spot. Vollmer was a second-team All Pro there two
years ago, but continues to battle back injuries. His durability is a
major concern. A year after finishing cancer treatments -- and playing
sparingly as a rookie -- Cannon could battle for playing time with the
veteran newcomer Gallery. Though likely to be vying for time at right
tackle, both players could be an option at guard as well.
Wendell and Thomas are all versatile interior backups battling for
roster spots, while Kopa is a former practice squadder who coaches hope
will develop into something more.