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NFL Indianapolis ColtsNew England Patriots

2014 NFL Playoffs: New England Patriots’ Nate Solder In For Toughest Test Of Season vs. Indianapolis Colts

Nate Solder

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are going to be in for a tough test when the Indianapolis Colts come into Gillette Stadium Saturday night. One of the biggest reasons for that is because rush linebacker Robert Mathis will be in white and blue, and left tackle Nate Solder is going to be a key factor.

Solder has mostly been good this season, especially in his run blocking. He ranked as one of the best left tackles in the NFL during the regular season according to Pro Football Focus, but there were times where Solder struggled.

Unfortunately, Solder’s biggest struggles came against some of the best pass rushers in the league. The most notable letdown from the big left tackle came against Denver Broncos rush linebacker Von Miller. Miller beat Solder for two sacks and caused several additional pressures on Tom Brady.

Solder has played almost three full seasons in the league, so we mostly know what he is by now. He is a very good but not great left tackle. Despite being labeled as “soft” when he came out in the draft, Solder has displayed a proficiency in his run blocking. However, he has struggled in pass protection when it comes to facing off against speed rushers.

And that is exactly what Mathis is. If the film means anything, Solder will probably struggle protecting Brady against Mathis. That means that Josh McDaniels will probably have to line up a tight end on Solder’s side. If not, we could be seeing Brady being another victim of the league’s most productive pass rusher in the regular season.

Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.