Patriots' tackle Nate Solder, who could be taking on a bigger role on the offensive line if Matt Light retires and he flips from the right side to the left, spoke to hundreds of families at the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. The Pats and New England Pop Warner held an event to honor youth players and cheerleaders for scholastic acheivement.
Coming off a rookie season in which he played in all 19 games (including the postseason), with 16 starts, 14 of which came at right tackle and two at left tackle but also saw him play as a third tight end, the first-round pick out of Colorado took a week's vacation since the season ended but otherwise has been at Gillette Stadium working out.
The biggest question surrounding Solder is tied to the status of Light. There are rumors that Light will retire, and if that happens, Solder could get his chance to be Tom Brady's blindside protector on a full-time basis.
Solder said he hasn't talked to Light since the Patriots' loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, but he'd welcome the opportunity to fight for the job if it comes available.
"Well I feel like that is the reason I was brought here, to eventually be the starter, and that's great. I'm excited about that," Solder said.
Asked to reflect on his first season, the 6-foot-8 Solder had an interesting response:
"My sole drive was not to be a disappointment" - he let out a self-conscious chuckle - "so I hope I wasn't a disappointment. But it continues on, you know, I have to get better next year too."
Solder mentions his technique more than once when asked what he needs to improve, saying he needs to refine it.
Unlike the younger members of his audience at the Pop Warner event, Solder didn't grow up playing football in the organization - he was a ski racer instead, idolizing Austrian legend Hermann Maier.