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New Patriots OT Calvin Anderson explains the advantages of being coached by a former player

A free agent pickup earlier this offseason, Anderson is now being coached by two former NFL offensive linemen.

The New England Patriots invested in their offensive line this offseason even before selecting three players in the draft. Among the earliest moves they made was adding veteran tackle Calvin Anderson on a two-year contract.

Anderson joining the Patriots brings him back to his old stomping grounds: he already spent a couple of weeks with the club to start his NFL tenure as a rookie free agent in the spring of 2019. Over the last four years, however, things have changed quite a bit both for him and the organization.

The O-line is one area that has seen turnover. Starting center David Andrews might still be around, but the rest of the group has changed significantly. That is also true for its coaching staff. In fact, the Patriots are now on their fourth offensive line coach since Dante Scarnecchia — who led the unit during Anderson’s first stint — announced his retirement in 2020.

The latest coach to try his luck is Adrian Klemm. Hiring the former Patriots lineman, who turned to coaching in the mid-2000s, was another investment made by the team.

For Anderson, having a former player serve as his position coach is a positive.

“I think there’s a level of understanding,” he explained recently. “When a guy has played on the field before — and maybe it’s hard to communicate how that actually displays for each individual coach — but I think when you’re coached by somebody whose been on the field, there’s just a level of understanding they have with the positions you’re in. So, they can tailor their teaching to the specific positions that each guy is in. It’s something I appreciate.

“There’s been greats that have done it without ever playing. Obviously, one of them was here. I think, for me, it’s something I appreciate about the guys I worked with and I’ve seen it be really helpful, especially when you’re going against really good rushers and trying to understand how to break them down.”

Anderson has played exclusively under ex-linemen throughout his four-year NFL career.

After starting under Scarnecchia, who had some experience from his college days in the 1960s, he was coached by Frank Pollack with the New York Jets (2019) and Mike Munchak (2019-21) with the Denver Broncos. In 2022, the Broncos hired another former college player — Batch Barry — before replacing him with Ben Steele in-season.

Now back in New England, Anderson will be playing under Klemm; the former second-round draft pick appeared in 42 games over six active seasons. The early impression the position coach left on the recently-signed tackle is a positive one.

“I love AK so far,” Anderson said. “You can tell he played. You can tell he understands the positions we’re in, that we’re put in on the field. And I always have an appreciation for guys who have understood first-hand what it’s like to be playing. He’s got a good knowledge of the game. He’s one of those coaches that can understand how you learn — all the different guys and the different ways they learn — and can tailor the teaching to that. So, I have an appreciation for that.”