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Line gets tested out of blocks

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / September 9, 2012
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NASHVILLE — One of the big questions as the season starts for the Patriots is can the offensive line rebound from a rough training camp and preseason?

Through a combination of injuries and players being moved around, what is now the expected first-team line did not get to play much together. Logan Mankins came back to practice a couple of weeks into camp after offseason surgery for a torn ACL, and Sebastian Vollmer played just 10 snaps in the exhibition finale after missing nearly all of camp.

And without Brian Waters, it will likely be Dan Connolly at right guard with Ryan Wendell at center.

Left tackle Nate Solder said Friday that the unit has to be good to go.

“We certainly all have to be working together, see things through the same eyes,” Solder said. “A lot of times it comes down to being clear in the way you communicate, knowing what you see, having good film study, understanding what you see and being able to react to it.”

Tom Brady, the man Solder and the rest of his linemates are charged with protecting, professed his confidence in the unit, as he has all summer.

“I think it’s been a very competitive position for us all of training camp,” he said in a conference call with Tennessee reporters last week. “Certainly the guys that are in there have earned their spots through a lot of hard work, through a lot of practices. They’re very well-coached.

“I certainly have a lot of confidence in them as a group. I’ve got no concerns that they’ll be prepared and they’ll give everything they’ve got this weekend.’’

“I think the strength of the [Titans] defense and the way they can disrupt the passer and get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands as fast as they can, they’ve proven they’re very good at that. That’s a serious challenge for us.”

Vollmer is questionable for the game because of his back; if he has to come out, Marcus Cannon will likely step in.

Vereen stays out

The Patriots declared running back Shane Vereen out against the Titans. The second-year player suffered a foot injury in the team’s exhibition game against Tampa Bay Aug. 24 and has not practiced since.

The team listed five players as questionable: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Daniel Fells (shin), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), and Vollmer (back).

Dennard was added to the report Friday after suffering his injury in practice.

Safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) is probable.

Titans DT Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) is doubtful.

Britt forced to watch

One player the Patriots know they will not have to face is Tennessee receiver Kenny Britt. Britt, who tore his ACL last September and has since had arthroscopic procedures on both knees, was suspended for the game by the NFL after repeated run-ins with the law, the most recent a DUI arrest in July. A talented receiver, Britt has failed to live up to expectations with the Titans after he was drafted 30th overall in 2009 . . . A lot has been written about twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty as they prepare to play against one another for the first time in their athletic careers, but both were honored by their teammates last week when it was announced that Devin had been voted a Patriots captain for the second year in a row, and Jason was selected as one of the Titans’ captains.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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