New England Patriots Links 8/21/12 - Hole-y O-Line, Belichick! QB Protection Needs Help!

Just like Jon Gruden, Nate Ebner goes head over heels for Nick Foles.

Christopher Price tells us ten things we learned Monday. Protection remains a problem for the Patriots.

It was a bad night for New England’s offensive line as a whole. The Patriots could only muster 2.1 yards per carry on 29 carries, and the two New England quarterbacks were 15 for 37 passing as Hoyer was sacked twice. But it was the tackles that really had problems, and the Philadelphia game comes on the heels of the preseason opener against the Saints, where Solder and Cannon also struggled at times holding back pressure off the edge. It’s one thing to see Cannon have problems -- he remains more of a backup, at least at this stage of his career. But the sight of a first-round pick like Solder being overpowered and beaten badly is odd, given where he was at the end of the 2011 season. The steadiness and consistency that were hallmarks of Solder’s rookie year have been replaced by indecision and trouble with balance.

Mike Reiss shares his rapid reaction to last night's preseason loss to the Eagles.

Brady not even spotted on sideline: While some players who didn’t play were dressed on the sideline, Brady wasn’t one of them. Just a guess, but this could be a similar situation to 2008, when Brady was injured and wasn’t on the sideline as the club transitioned to backup Matt Cassel. That was believed to be a directive from Belichick so Brady wouldn’t become a focal point of media attention on the sideline.

Second unit hangs with Eagles starters: With many of the team’s second-string players seeing extended action and the Eagles playing their top personnel into the third quarter, the Patriots had to feel pretty good about the results. The Patriots opened an 11-0 lead early in the second quarter, and it was 14-14 at halftime.

Chung leaves with shoulder injury: The Patriots lost starting safety Patrick Chung to a shoulder injury on the team’s second series. Chung needed some help coming off the field -- he appeared dazed after making a tackle -- and went back to the locker room for tests. Unlike some of the other top starters on defense, Chung was playing in the game to continue the process of working alongside free-agent signee Steve Gregory as the team’s top pairing. He was replaced by veteran Will Allen.

Offensive tackles struggle: Left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon played throughout the first half, and they struggled on the edges. If there was a main downer to the performance, this was it. Cannon figures to be replaced by Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle now that Vollmer passed his physical and is coming off the physically unable to perform list, but if Solder continues to struggle, the left tackle spot could become an even greater concern.

Ebner flashes ball skills: Rookie safety Nate Ebner, the sixth-round draft choice from Ohio State, built off his strong week of practice and showed good ball skills in snaring an interception at the end of the second quarter. Ebner returned it 34 yards. This was a big week for Ebner, who is carving out a roster spot for himself as a core special teamer and reserve safety.




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