Offensive line improves in opener

NASHVILLE -- When it comes to storylines around the Patriots in recent weeks, the performance of the offensive line in the preseason may top the list.

In Sunday's 34-13 win over the Titans, the front line of the Patriots front line improved, despite allowing a second-quarter sack of Tom Brady that left the quarterback with an apparent bloody nose.

"I think he got flushed and (Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley) ran him down from the back and I don't knew exactly what else happened," tackle Nate Solder said of the sack. "I'll have to see on film."

"I don't have any mental breakdowns today," guard Logan Mankins said. "I'm sure we had a few physical (breakdowns), but that's going to happen. You're playing against good players. It went smooth out there. I felt comfortable. I think they felt comfortable. It will only get better."

Mankins was playing alongside a new left tackle (Nate Solder) and center (Ryan Wendell) from last season. Wendell seemed to hold his own inside.

"I was so excited to get out there and help my team," he said. "We have two jobs -- to open up lanes in the running game and to keep Tom safe. We all know that if we keep Tom safe, and keep guys off him, that our offense is going to function well."

Meanwhile, at right tackle, Sebastian Vollmer rotated with Marcus Cannon, who later slid inside to right guard after Dan Connolly left the game with a head injury.

"It was good. I'm excited to get some snaps. Obviously, I shared them with Marcus," Vollmer said. "I thought it was a good amount (of snaps). You prepare yourself to play 60 minutes. If you get them all, great. If you don't, great. It's up to them, and you just prepare yourself to play the whole game."

The status of Connolly, who has effectively replaced Brian Waters as the starting right guard, is worth monitoring. If he misses time, it will be another blow to an offensive line that has struggled to put a consistent group on the field since last season.

"I think it's a work in progress," Solder said. "We're going to keep getting better and working to improve."