The Patriots’ ability to keep their starting offensive line intact for 2013 shouldn’t be understated, but the swift re-signing of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was a marked difference from the offseason that unit had last year. Remember the questions? Can Nate Solder replicate a decade of Matt Light’s sturdiness after the staple’s retirement? What will happen with the Dan band of Koppen and Connolly? And, depending on what day it was, what in the name of John Hannah was going on with Brian Waters? The Patriots had the talent in their grasp; they merely had to figure out how to deploy it. And sure enough, just about everything worked out in 2012 — even while Koppen wound up in Denver, Waters remained in Texas and Ryan Wendell surprisingly emerged to play more snaps than any player in the league. Now, it’s much simpler, as the pieces remained together once Vollmer signed his four-year contract last week. And don’t forget, Logan Mankins is in the midst of a surgery-free offseason, so he is optimistic that his game will return to form after the most frustrating season of his eight-year career. There’s no drama, and that’s exactly how the no-nonsense linemen like it. “I certainly like it, obviously,” Vollmer said. “When you play next to a guy for a few years and you practice next to a guy, you just get certain things down. You kind of know how the other guys play certain situations, and you just get a feel for each other. I think that is important, although injuries do happen and whatnot, and that’s why we practice with different combinations. “I think we’re just happy to have the starting five now intact, and everything else, we’ll cross the bridge then. Definitely, I think it helps, and I think that’s a good thing.” The group put in some good work in 2012, as the Patriots ranked seventh in rushing and Tom Brady was sacked 27 times, which was an improvement from the year before. While Solder, Mankins, Wendell, Connolly and Vollmer are the projected starters, from left to right, there is an element of the unknown behind them, though that’s the case anywhere. The Patriots gave swing tackle Will Svitek a one-year, $1 million contract that included $500,000 guaranteed, which means they expect him to make the team, likely as the top backup. That might mean Marcus Cannon will get more work at guard to justify his presence on the game-day roster.
Pats O-line picture perfectly intact
Boston Herald | Mar 31