Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- One day after earning a promotion from the practice squad, Cameron Fleming became the Patriots answer at right tackle.

When starting left tackle Marcus Cannon (who was forced into that spot due to Nate Solder's season-ending biceps injury) left the Colts game in the first quarter, Bill Belichick's offensive line had to get creative. Starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer flipped to the left side, while Fleming subbed in on the right. 

The second-year player out of Stanford ended up playing 58 snaps in his team's 34-27 victory. 

"The good thing for Cam was he did that last year," Belichick said during a press conference Friday. "Cam is very intelligent, very smart, works hard, and he's a very diligent guy. As a rookie, he was always in that situation. There were times where he was thrown into it. He's done it this year, and it was the same thing so, again, I'm not surprised.

"But I think he did do a good job, without taking a lot of reps with that group and playing pretty much three quarters of the game at that position. They got some very good pass-rushers and good players out there -- [Erik] Walden, [Robert] Mathis those guys. I thought he did a good job, but he's done that for us before, and that's why everybody's important, every role is important. You just never know how it's going to go, but he definitely answered the bell."

The Patriots may need him to answer it again this weekend. Cannon missed the team's first two practices of the week with a toe injury, putting his availability for Sunday's game with the Jets in doubt. If he can't go, Fleming likely would be reinserted at right tackle with Vollmer taking on the duties of the team's starting left tackle. 

 

The Patriots have provided themselves some insurance by having Fleming -- who played in nine games last season, including the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl -- at the ready. But Belichick explained on Friday that any time two players at the same position go down, as Solder and Cannon have, it's difficult to recover. 

"You lose two players at any position, on any team, that's an issue," Belichick said. "Two of anything with anybody, pick any team in the league, that would be an issue. Once you start getting into that area, you gotta start thinking about what's our emergency move, how do we get through this?
 
"Maybe it's not even so much who we play there, but now what you can actually do with that person there? How you would manage the game, what you would call if we got to that point? Third quarterback, third tight end, third right tackle, third defensive end, third safety, third anything. If you're going that far down the line, it would be an issue. Not saying you couldn't handle it, but it would be an issue."
 
The Patriots handled it last week without issue, but a challenge awaits on Sunday in the form of the Jets talented defensive line.