New England Patriots Offensive Line Key in Week 1

By Sean Rollins

In the New England Patriots first game of the 2012 season, the offensive line will play a key part in Sunday’s season opener and telling what will come during the remainder of the season. In the recent past, the team’s protection has been solid but injuries and retirements have raised questions for the Patriots this year. In the first game of the season, they must prove themselves for the Patriots to be successful.

After ten years of stability led by a corps group of big men up front, the Patriots are dealing with significant turnover going into this 2012 season. Three key members of Patriots offensive line are now gone. Left tackle Matt Light announced his retirement at the beginning of the offseason, Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters looks as though he will not be reporting to the team this season, and last year’s starting center Dan Koppen was a part of the final group of cuts.

The only good news for the Patriots offensive line is that Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer are now healthy but they still missed significant time during training camp. Nate Solder was drafted to be a long term replacement at tackle but while showing promise he has yet to perform the way the team expects. Other than Dan Connolly who has only been a backup in the past, the remainder of the line is very inexperienced.

The Patriots opening game opponents won’t make the transition any easier either. The Tennessee Titans will be deploying two strong defensive ends in Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley in an attempt to rough up the Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady. With Brady’s health being essential to the Patriots success in 2012, week one should give a good indication as to how he will be protected throughout the year.

The New England Patriots have had the luxury in recent years of having one of the best offenses in the NFL. One of the main reasons for that is the consistency of their offensive line allowing the team to focus on other positions. There is so little known about this current inexperienced group of linemen that a strong performance by them Sunday will be key for a successful season opener.

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