FanPost

New England Patriots PreSeason Watch - Offensive Line - Updated 9/4/2009


Continuing the position battles: (Previously QB WR RB TE)


The Offensive Line:

NUMBER NAME POSITION HEIGHT WEIGHT DOB YEAR LAST YEAR
67 Dan Koppen C 6-2 296 9/12/1979 7
63 Dan Connolly G/C 6-4 313 9/2/1982 4
71 Russ Hochstein TRADED G/C 6-4 305 10/7/1977 9
60 Al Johnson CUT G/C 6-5 305 1/21/1979 7 * Dolphins
74 Billy Yates CUT G(R) 6-2 305 4/15/1980 6
70 Logan Mankins LG 6-4 310 3/10/1982 5
61 Stephen Neal RG 6-4 305 10/9/1976 8
69 Ryan Wendell G/C 6-2 275 3/4/1986 2 P
65 Wesley Britt T(L) 6-8 320 11/21/1981 4
77 Nick Kaczur RT 6-4 315 7/28/1979 5
64 Mark LeVoir RES/PUP T(R) 6-7 306 7/29/1982 3
72 Matt Light LT 6-4 305 6/23/1978 9
68 Ryan O'Callaghan T(R) 6-7 330 7/19/1983 4
62 Rich Ohrnberger G/C 6-2 291 2/13/1986 R
76 Sebastian Vollmer T(L/R) 6-8 315 7/10/1984 R
75 66 George Bussey G 6-2 306 10/24/1985 R
91 Jermail Porter RELEASED OL (Wrestler) 6-5 310 5/24/1986 R

Prior to training camp, I had our veteran starters, Matt Light - LT, Logan Mankins - LG, Dan Koppen - C, Stephen Neal - RG, and Nick Kaczur - RT, as starters this year along with most of our backups sticking it out.

The update after the jump.

Ex-Patriot lineman turned columnist, Ross Tucker, talks about the 2 C's in the Offensive Line: Chemistry and Continuity.  Get like minded individuals together and keep them together.  Our trench warriors have been together for quite awhile, and that is one of the reasons they work well together.  They like each other, have similar interests, and are willing to battle for each other.  Matt Light is the oldest of our starters, and Nick Kaczur has been the most suspect in protecting the QB.

When looking at the offensive line you'd like to have three man depth at all positions.  When looking at the guys available, their are several Guard/Center combinations and that is good.  You also see some Guards and Tackles.  Does having 4 tackles gives us 2 starters and 2 backups at each position?  Not exactly, Ross Tucker has a nice article about the dangers of switching players between right and left side of the line.  The quickest example I can give is to try and write with your non-dominant hand.  Given time, you'll do a fair job, but it isn't as automatic as using the hand you've trained for the job.  Footing changes accompany the switch as well, and the size of the defensive players changes.  In the end, a 2 man depth chart is more realistic.

The right side of the line is generally the "strong" side, and is loaded with larger defensive backs and linebackers.  The tight-end usually plays on the right, to help with the bigger opponents.  The left side or "weak" side usually has faster rushers, a quick left step is vital to keeping these guys under control.  The good news is "Sea Bass"-tian Vollmer, is a guy that can play both Tackle positions.

Belichick said, "From a talent standpoint, it's rare that you have guys who are big enough and physical enough to play on the right side, that are then athletic enough and can handle some of the pass rushers that are over there on the left side. That eliminates a lot of players, guys who are either one or the other based on their physical assets. Then you have another group of players who might conceptually be able to play both, but maybe their mentality or comfort level of playing one or the other eliminates [them].  To have a true swing tackle, that's a tough position to find. ... Sebastian seems very good at that to this point. As we go on and keep adding more stuff, we'll see how it goes."

Assuming, like Mike Reiss, that our starters jobs are safe, I'd say Vollmer has made a strong argument for a backup job (though I think he picks up playing time quickly).  Mike Reiss also had our OL positions down to 8, instead of the 10 we've carried previously.  That's pretty optimistic, calling for alot of guys to stay healthy.  If we want to push into January, we need 10.  There are other positions with alot more depth to cut from.

Likewise, I think that Russ Hochstein, who can play Center, both Guard positions, Long Snapper, as well as short yardage Fullback, is a definite keeper.

I don't see us losing Dan Connolly or Ryan O'Callaghan as Mike Reiss does.  Mark LeVoir (backup RT)  has been on PUP through camp, and will probably spend the year on IR.  This frees up a roster spot for Ryan O'Callaghan who is returning from IR last year.

Wesley Britt is cut making way for Sebastian Vollmer, Billy Yates is cut making room for Rich Orhnberger.  Rich Orhnberger, Ryan Wendell or George Bussey could also go to the practice squad.

As the pre-season games continue, rating the O-line is more than keeping Brady clean (although we'd like him spotless).  In the passing game, holding the pocket is critical, but a breakdown here can be hard to diagnose.  A lack of coverage might not be a missed block, it might be a breakdown in calling the coverage.  A man who is constantly beat, however is not a good thing.  In the Eagles game, the O-line Brady had was good for passing.

In the running game, look for clear cut running lanes - penetration into the 2nd level (linebackers) is definitely a plus.  In the Eagles game, the O-line Maroney ran with had trouble making lanes.  Since all the guys depend upon each other, it's hard for fans to diagnose exactly who is to blame.  The guys will get their report card when they see who made the team.

Which big men do YOU think will make it, and which will be looking elsewhere?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UPDATE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

8-25-2009 - The Patriots have traded Russ Hochstein to Denver for a late 2010 draft pick.

9-4-2009 - The Patriots have cut sixth year Guard Billy Yates.

The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.

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