ALLSTON, Mass. -- Among the teammates in attendance for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Football Challenge event on Friday night at Harvard stadium were a pair of his offensive linemen, center Dan Koppen and tackle Nate Solder.
Solder, who was a standout tight end recruit in high school, dropped a pair of passes during the first half, a sign of further justification of his decision to move from a pass catcher to a pass protector. Koppen, meanwhile, dazzled with some fancy footwork on a touchdown catch of his own, displaying nifty athleticism.
The two spent some time answering questions with reporters during the game, and here’s a recap of the brief Q&A from each.
Are we going to see center-eligible (plays) in 2012?
"I don’t think I can get that one cleared with Bill in ’12, I don’t think he’s going to let me do it. They might suspect that one’s coming."
What brings you out today?
"Best Buddies. It’s been a charity that’s close to my heart and I’ve been coming here every year since I’ve been in the league, and it’s just a tremendous organization helping the intellectually challenged. Anthony Shriver does a great job with it, the people here, the volunteers, Tom (Brady) obviously helping out with it. It just helps a lot of people."
Did the touchdown make it an even sweeter night?
"I didn’t come out to score touchdowns. I think (Nate) Solder had me running a little bit more (on defense) than I would’ve liked to, but that’s why he’s the young pup. But you see the end zone, you see the line, you gotta go for it."
Are you worried now that the word is out on your quickness?
"I don’t think it was that quick. I think you gotta look at who was playing defense. You just take it all into perspective."
How are things working out with some of the moving parts on the offensive line during OTAs, specifically Robert Gallery?
"He’s coming out and doing his job, working hard and trying to get things right. He’s coming from a different system where he’s gotta learn how we do things. So far, he’s a great guy, he’s a great player, he just comes out and does his work. That’s what OTAs are for, moving guys around, seeing what they can do, what we can do and how much pressure they can handle."
How has this experience been for you, coming out to play in the game tonight?
"Well, it's awesome. Because the first time I met a lot of these guys was at this game last year, so it's neat to be here, and spend a year with them, and kind of get to know them and it's really neat that all these guys have been giving back and doing this kind of thing, and this is something that we all want to do. Everyone that's here really likes doing this and it's a neat event for us."
Can you compare the offseason program that you're going through now with what you went through last year?
"I missed out on so much. A lot of the time spent getting ready and getting to know the guys that I didn't have last year I have this year, which is nice."
Is it tough when the PA announcer (at the charity game) calls you out for dropping a pass?
"Well, I did have the biggest drop of the game so far, so I understand that."
Do you feel that you have big shoes to fill now that Matt Light has officially retired, and you are lining up at left tackle?
"I think that this is a high-pressure game. I think we're all under a lot of pressure. I certainly take that responsibility seriously and I prepare myself every day."
Do you have to flip everything in your head, moving from the right side to the left side?
"I played left (tackle) in college, so it's kind of coming back home."