Entering the 2023 offseason, offensive tackle projected as one of the biggest needs for the New England Patriots.
It was a position that struggled last year, as they seemingly playing a game of musical chairs at the right tackle spot throughout 2022 and allowed the fourth-highest pressure percent (26.8%) in the league from the left tackle spot, per Pro Football Focus. But, as the Patriots retooled their roster over the past few months, they did not add a prized possession at tackle in either free agency or the NFL Draft.
Instead, they bolstered their depth at the position by signing veterans Calvin Anderson and Riley Reiff, as well as bringing back Conor McDermott and Yodny Cajuste.
As the Patriots now return to the practice fields, where they will begin OTAs next week, they will have plenty of options on how to mix-and-match their tackles. After flipping Trent Brown from the right to left side prior to last season, Reiff, who enters his 12th NFL season, provides similar versatility.
Starting his career on the left side, Reiff has played on the right side over the last two season for Cincinnati and Chicago. The 34-year-old also got a taste of both sides in college at Iowa.
“At first it was hard, I’m a little bit used to it now,” he told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “That's just something where you bank the reps, you put in the extra time and get it right. It’s harder than it looks, But yeah, I've done that a couple times throughout my career.”
Based on the guarantees New England gave Reiff in the one-year deal he signed this offseason, the likely projection is that he starts OTAs on the right side with Trent Brown back on Mac Jones’ blindside. Reiff would not tip his hand on any potential alignment, however.
“No, I’m just an offensive lineman,” he said. “Wherever the coaches want me to do it, I’ll do it.”
The first-look at the Patriots line configuration will come next week at OTAs. While the team holds their first practice on Monday May 22nd, media will be in attendance on Thursday May 25th. Until then, it’s up to new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm to continue to get his unit prepared.
“It’s been great right now, we’re in the offseason workouts, learning the playbook,” Reiff said. “Learning the techniques that he wants. He’s just been awesome, coach, teacher. We’re just trying to build every day.”