FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the big storylines for the Patriots in their season opener against the Dolphins is at right tackle, where second-team All-Pro Sebastian Vollmer has missed the last two weeks of practice with a back injury.
If Vollmer isn't ready, it almost certainly thrusts rookie Nate Solder into the starting lineup, whether he's ready or not. The first-round draft choice from Colorado has received a crash course throughout the preseason.
"I'm absolutely ready to go," said Solder, who is the only other pure tackle on the depth chart. "Whatever situation I'm put in, it's because the coaches have confidence in me to be in there. ... It's just a building process for me. I'm just one cog of this wheel."
Earlier Friday, coach Bill Belichick gave Solder (6-8, 319) positive reviews from his work at right tackle. Flipping sides can challenge some tackles -- Matt Light is one example who couldn't make the move from left to right -- but Solder hasn't experienced major issues, according to Belichick.
Solder, who could be matched up against Dolphins pass-rusher Cameron Wake (14 sacks in 2010) on Monday night, was asked how he would compare his time at Colorado to the last five weeks in the NFL.
"Everyone says it's bigger and faster, and I think that's true, but it's a mental thing as well, the amount of information that you need to know is much more," he said.
On a light note, Solder laughed about his hair, which received a tough cut as part of a rookie tradition. He later shaved it off.
"I can't be more ready for it to grow back," he said, smiling.