TAMPA — If the Patriots’ offensive line has been an imploding disaster to this point in camp, coach Dante Scarnecchia isn’t seeing it.
“There’s no cliff I’m throwing myself off right now. I’m telling you the truth,” he said. “Believe it or not, that glass is half full and filling up. That’s just how I see it. With every position, all I ask is the best. They’re giving it to us, and we’ll improve.”
Left tackle Nate Solder, who is trying to replace the retired Matt Light at left tackle, has had some issues in games, but Scarnecchia is pleased with Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon.
“I think Nate Solder is better today than he was all of last year,” Scarnecchia said.
“(Cannon’s) doing a good. He never had a training camp with us last year, he went through the whole season, started actually playing football the sixth week so I think his development, I think he’s coming along good. He’s got some things to learn like all young tackles have to do. I’m pleased with the effort he’s putting forth and the way he’s developing and he just keeps chugging away. He has started for us, started against Miami, and if he starts this year, good, lets go. I think he’s a good player.”
Struggles for young players are the norm, Scarnecchia said.
“I think all young tackles struggle on plays and protections in this league, OK?” he said. “Just do a little thinking. Who did Matt Light replace? Bruce Armstrong. Did anybody think that it was going to be (smooth)? OK. Did you think he had any problems with it to start with? Well hell yeah they all had problems. It is what it is.
“Personally, I’m pleased with the way those kids are developing — I’m really pleased with the way they’re developing. Is it the finished product? No and we have a couple weeks to get it to as good as it can be, and then we’re going to play, we’re going to play a game. He started for us at right tackle last year, Nate did, Marcus played some. It is what it is. So whoever goes out there, we’re going to put our best players out on the field and we expected nothing but their best.”
Scarnecchia talked about how Light played as a rookie in 2001 on his way to starting the Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory.
“Oh, it was as painful as it could ever be, you know?” Scarnecchia said. “Just like anything, he got better and became a really good player, quote ‘one that you can’t replace.’ No one can be replaced, but we’ve got some really good candidates. I love Matt. I wish he were here, but he’s not, and I love the guys that are here, and I look forward to them playing for us for a long time to come.”
Scarnecchia wouldn’t comment on the status of guard Brian Waters, but he did talk about left guard Logan Mankins and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (who did not take part in team drills today) being back.
“As much as we can, we’re able to get bodies working side by side that hopefully will be working side when it’s for real in September,” Scarnecchia said. “So we tried to keep Logan with Nate and try to keep Sebastian over there with (Dan) Connolly and just give them some reps together. I think that’s always a good thing. The most important thing is, I think for their own self comfort, to be able to get out, test themselves, see how everything is working, how the mending process is going. So it’s only a good thing.”