<
>

Solder gets winning feel at Gillette

The Patriots introduced first-round pick Nate Solder at Gillette Stadium on Friday. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Patriots first-round draft choice Nate Solder walked around Gillette Stadium for the first time Friday, flanked by owner Robert Kraft, he was reminded of some special memories that have taken place here.

"Mr. Kraft was the one who pointed out the impressive record they have here at the stadium," Solder said after the traditional photo shoot with the team's top draft choice. "So that was the first thought that came to mind, they win a lot of games here. They do things right here."

The Patriots are 67-15 at Gillette (including playoffs) since the stadium opened in 2002, a mark that Solder hopes to improve upon in the coming years.

It has been a long day for Solder, who boarded a 6 a.m. flight out of Colorado, yet his energy level remained high when he posed for pictures with Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft at the 50-yard line around 4:45 p.m.

Wearing a suit, vest and tie, along with a red Patriots cap, Solder held the standard No. 1 jersey in front of him as cameras snapped away. He then answered questions from reporters, looking comfortable in the spotlight, laughing at times and explaining details of his day that included meetings with the Krafts, Bill Belichick and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

"I've always held this place in really high regard," said Solder, who has only briefly visited New England in the past, for the Walter Camp All-American banquet. "I have a ton of respect for the players, Mr. Kraft, and what he's built here. This is an amazing place and I would not rather be anywhere else in the world, actually."

In a light moment at the start of the photo shoot, Robert Kraft joked that Scarnecchia, now in his 27th Patriots season, had been with the team for more years than Solder had been alive (23).

Kraft also relayed that he asked Solder for a story he could relay to the media about his connection to the Patriots. Solder explained that his name doesn't have an "i" in it, which reflects he's a "team guy all the way."

"That just says it all," Kraft said.