Patriots

Are Nate Solder's struggles related to missing camp?

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Are Nate Solder's struggles related to missing camp?

Nate Solder doesn’t like to be seen, and is rarely heard. Not that he won’t take his media medicine on a weekly basis, but the Patriots left tackle would prefer to play the game and never once hear his name on the broadcast except for the introductions. In fact, if that’s the way it plays out on a week-to-week basis, Solder is doing his job and doing it quite well.

Unfortunately for Solder - and Tom Brady - that wasn’t the case Thursday night in Tampa, nor has it been the story for a better part of this season. Solder has struggled with rushers of all shapes and sizes. As a result, Brady has been hit more through the first five games of the year than ever before.

Solder isn’t the only one to blame. There have been breakdowns at every spot, but Solder - by my count - has allowed 19 QB pressures, including 3 sacks. And that’s with Brady saving his bacon on more than occasion.

During a conference call with Bill Belichick Monday morning, I asked the Pats head coach if it was fair to categorize Solder’s play as inconsistent, especially when viewed through the prism of years past.

“Well, again, as I said before, I think that overall as a team there are things that we all need to do better; coaching, playing, adjustments and so forth,” replied Belichick. “Sometimes we haven’t just executed things the way that we want to do it. There have been a number of reasons for that. Again, all of us can improve and do better. That’s what we’re going to try and do.”

Solder essentially missed all of training camp and the preseason, yet when they kicked the ball for real that Thursday night against Kansas City, the veteran assumed his normal spot at left tackle and stayed there. He has played all but one snap this year, and that was because Solder was an eligible receiver and by rule had to come off for one play. After scuffling that night versus the Chiefs, and then again in Weeks 2 and 3, Solder put together his best outing in a loss to Carolina. Maybe, the thought was, he just needed that stretch to kick the rust off. I mean, it was essentially his August. 

“Of course, the reason why we have practice is so that players can improve,” said Belichick. “I think any player that practices has more of a chance to work on his fundamentals and improve them than a player that doesn’t practice. But that being said, most players somewhere along the line miss some practice time or a game, so that’s something that each individual player has to deal with from time to time. You want to have as many players out there as you can and have them improving individually and have them working with their teammates, but as we all know, that’s hard to get 100 percent attendance on that.”

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels didn’t seem to think Solder’s issues - if he even has any - are related to missing camp.

“That’s one man’s opinion,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of things that happen during the course of a game that could try to pin on one player, but there’s eleven guys out there on offense and there’s a lot of things that go into each play. Not every play is the same protection. Not every play is the same timing. Not every play is the same run scheme. There’s a lot of things that go into good plays, and there’s a lot of things that go into plays that don’t work the way that we would like them to.

“I think Nate battles a lot of the best players in the league over there at left tackle. He’s done it for a long time. Just like every player, there’s going to be some plays that could you improve on them? Sure, but there’s a lot of good plays, too. It’s a team thing.”

The way McDaniels answered the question made me think Solder’s play has been viewed differently inside the walls at Gillette than outside. Are you saying that Solder is playing better than it appears?

“I don’t really stop to analyze one thing or another,” McDaniels said. “We’re analyzing every player on every play that we go through and trying to make everybody better. But, like I said, there’s a lot of things that aren’t as good as we’d like them to be right now, whether they come across as good or not…that’s what all our guys are working towards.”

There is no one on this roster capable of doing the job at left tackle to the level the 29-year-old has played at in previous seasons. But as Belichick has often reminded us - as recently as with Malcolm Butler and Alan Branch - it’s up to the player to establish himself each and every year and set that level. Right now, Solder’s level is far below what the Patriots are accustomed to. With no quick fix in sight, it’s on the player to get right, or Brady will suffer the consequences.

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In a surprise move, Chiefs sign Darrelle Revis

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In a surprise move, Chiefs sign Darrelle Revis

KANSAS CITY -- The Kansas City Chiefs needed help in their leaky defensive backfield.

Darrelle Revis was ready to provide it.

So the AFC West leaders signed the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback on Wednesday, a surprising midseason move involving a big-name player. Revis played for the New York Jets last season, but his massive salary cap number combined with a decline in performance led to his release in late February.

Still, the Chiefs were desperate to find a cornerback to play opposite Marcus Peters. Terrence Mitchell, Kenneth AckerSteven Nelson and Phillip Gaines have all failed to hold down the spot.

"He's ready to go now," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a conference call with reporters. "He was coming off the wrist (injury) and that he had last year, you know - this is when he was ready to go. We felt the same way. So it was a nice, mutual agreement that took place and here we are."

Reid did not rule out Revis playing Sunday against Buffalo, either.

Four days is typically a quick turnaround for a player to get acclimated to a team, especially one that hasn't played a snap since the end of last season. But Revis has a few things going for him: He has a vast amount of experience from which to draw, he is already familiar with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's system having played for him with the Jets, and the Chiefs really have nothing to lose.

They enter the game with the 28th-ranked pass defense in the league, hemorrhaging more than 250 yards per game. That includes a 417-yard performance by Oakland's Derek Carr a few weeks ago.

"We've had some young guys trying their hearts out and doing a nice job for us, too," Reid said. "It's a win-win. You get a veteran guy and you have some young guys that will continue to grow."

Perhaps coincidentally, the Chiefs visit the Meadowlands to face the Jets on Dec. 3.

Revis at one point was considered the best cornerback in the league, picking off 29 passes over 10 seasons with the Jets, Buccaneers and Patriots. He won a Super Bowl ring with New England.

He parlayed that into a five-year, $39 million contract to return to the Jets, but a wrist injury slowed him down a couple of years ago. Revis struggled most of last season, looking as if the 32-year-old had lost a step for the first time, and the Jets made the decision to let him go.

He's spent the past summer and fall keeping in shape.

"He's been around awhile. He looks great physically," Reid said, "but time does that, time will take a step away from you. But he's a smart guy, knows how to play the game and that becomes important at this point in his career. I'm not telling you he can't still run, he can run."

Good enough to help the Chiefs (6-4), who had dropped four of their past five?

"Darrelle is a proven player in this league and we are excited to add him," first-year Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. "He's had a Hall of Fame career and his leadership and playing experience will be valuable to our defense."

That may be where he is most beneficial: His experience. The Chiefs have little veteran presence in their secondary after safety Eric Berry was lost to a season-ending injury.

"You're talking about one of the all-time great players at that position," Reid said. "It's just a matter of getting him back in the swing of things and seeing where he's at. He's excited to be here. We are excited to have him. I would think his role would be to step in and be a starter."

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

FULL PARTICIPATION
RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)