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Patriots guard Cole Strange plans to attack his first full offseason ‘from every angle’

Related: Kendrick Bourne has no desire to leave the Patriots, even after a disappointing season

Buffalo Bills (24) Vs. New England Patriots (10) At Gillette Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

When the New England Patriots invested the 29th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in Cole Strange, there was no doubt about their intentions: he was brought aboard to fill a starting role along their offensive line, maybe as early as his rookie season.

Strange did just that, sliding into the left guard spot vacated when Ted Karras left for Cincinnati in free agency. He went on to start all 17 of New England’s games, and finished the season third on the team with 984 offensive snaps (93.5%).

That said, the jump from playing FCS ball at Chattanooga to the NFL did not go entirely swimmingly for the 24-year-old. Strange himself acknowledged as much during Monday’s locker room clean-up following the Patriots’ season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills.

“I shouldn’t say I haven’t been surprised with anything, but I kind of focused my mind before I got here that it was going to be very difficult,” he said about his first season as a pro.

“It was going to be not just difficult physically, but in every regard — mentally, learning a new playbook, playing against guys that are the best in the world. There’s no way to put it other than it was all tough, but I feel like I got better as the year went on. And I feel good moving forward.”

While Strange proved himself an NFL-caliber player at the left guard spot, he did have his growing pains — growing pains that led to him getting benched on two separate occasions.

“I came in, I feel like I maybe struggled a little bit at first,” he said. “But I improved as the year went on, and I think it’s just a matter of continuing to work and continuing to make sure that you’re progressing. I guess that would be the lesson: just keep working and keep improving.”

Strange’s improvement throughout the year was not always linear, but his abilities as both a pass protector and a run blocker were on display on several occasions. The hope heading into 2023 is that he can build on that foundation, and give New England a formidable interior trio alongside center David Andrews and right guard Michael Onwenu.

How does Strange plan to do this? By decompressing with his family in Tennessee, and by using his first full offseason in the NFL to purposefully prepare for what lies ahead.

“Lifting, trying to get stronger, trying to get bigger, gain weigh, continue working on position-specific drills,” he said. “Pretty much attacking it from every angle.”