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July 19, 2007
With training camp set to begin July 27, we'll take a snapshot look at each position on the Patriots' roster, starting with a quick chart, then following that up with a list of each player at the position. On Wednesday, we looked at the defensive line. Today, we stay in the trenches and look at the offensive line:
|STRENGTH||The top eight linemen from 2006 return this season. From top to bottom, this might be the deepest group in the NFL. Left guard Logan Mankins is on the cusp of the Pro Bowl. |
|WEAKNESS||Consistent production in the running game, which could lead to some tweaking of blocking schemes this season.|
|TOP QUESTION||Who will win the competition for the starting job at right tackle: third-year veteran Nick Kaczur, second-year man Ryan O'Callaghan or second-year player Wesley Britt?|
|FUTURE||Left tackle Matt Light (2010), left guard Logan Mankins (2009), center Dan Koppen (2011), right guard Stephen Neal (2009), right/left tackle Nick Kaczur (2009), right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan (2009) and guard/center Russ Hochstein (2008) all have multiple years left.|
Offensive line personnel: Brian Barthelmes (1st year) -- Played guard and center in NFL Europa; a longer shot to earn a roster spot.
Wesley Britt (2nd year) -- Swing tackle earned a roster spot last year, filled in admirably in his only start at right tackle, and should be on the club again.
Mike Elgin (rookie) -- Seventh-round pick out of Iowa plays center and guard; based on numbers at the position will have a hard time breaking through, although could find a home on the practice squad.
Corey Hilliard (rookie) -- Sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma State plays tackle and guard; based on numbers at the position will have a hard time breaking through, although could find a home on the practice squad.
Russ Hochstein (7th year) -- A valuable presence on the game-day roster because he backs up both center, guard and long-snapper positions. Faces competition from a slew of younger linemen.
Nick Kaczur (3rd year) -- Based on his production -- 20 starts over two seasons -- he is the pre-camp favorite to start at right tackle.
Dan Koppen (5th year) -- Center signed a lucrative contract extension last October; could draw some Pro Bowl consideration if he keeps acsending.
Matt Light (7th year) -- Left tackle recovered from a broken leg to start all 16 games last season; has been Tom Brady's primary blindside protector since 2001.
Logan Mankins (3rd year) -- Hasn't missed a start at left guard since the Patriots selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft.
Gene Mruczkowski (4th year) -- Will push Russ Hochstein to be primary backup at center and guard.
Stephen Neal (6th year) -- Consistent, athletic player who teams with Logan Mankins to form one of the NFL's best guard tandems.
Ryan O’Callaghan (2nd year) -- Fifth-round draft choice in 2006 started six of the first seven games as a rookie before settling in as a reserve. Will look to break through permanently as a starter at right tackle.
Clint Oldenburg (rookie) -- Fifth-round pick plays tackle and guard and adds to what should be a spirited competition for backup spots.
Billy Yates (4th year) -- Signed a three-year extension this offseason, which reflects how the Patriots feel about him. Plays center and guard, which puts him in competition with the likes of Russ Hochstein and Gene Mruczkowski.
Posted By: mreiss
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