It's Trent Brown, and there is optimism with how it has all unfolded.
"As you can see, he has some dynamic skills, and he's working hard to be a really good player on every down," offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said. "I think that's something that's been encouraging as we've gone.”
Listed on the roster at 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds, Brown was given first crack at the job and never gave up the spot. His primary competition, first-round draft choice Isaiah Wynn, tore his Achilles on Aug. 16 but was considered to be behind Brown at the time of the injury.
Brown knows he's stepping into a spot where the Patriots have had rare continuity in Bill Belichick's 19-year tenure as head coach, with Matt Light (2001-11) and Nate Solder (2012-17) the starters. Brown had primarily played right tackle with the San Francisco 49ers, who traded him to New England on draft day, but he felt confident he could make the switch.
That confidence has grown throughout the preseason, with Brown saying he hasn't officially "caught stride but is in the power-walking phase." He credits Scarnecchia and his fellow linemen for easing the transition.
"This group has been a blessing to the whole process of helping me come along and learn everything. I pretty much got it down," he said, acknowledging that there is always room for improvement.
That final part is what has also stood out to Scarnecchia: Brown's willingness to take hard coaching.
"This is a really compliant guy," Scarnecchia said. "You say, 'Hey Trent, we got to' and he'll do it. He wants to be better. You can't ask for more than that."
One example of that coaching came in Friday's preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers, when the Patriots' opening drive stalled as pressure off the edge -- from the player Brown was blocking -- forced a quick throw.
Scarnecchia explained that the line got squeezed on the play. The protection was set to the opposite side, but the Panthers moved a linebacker up to the right side of the line of scrimmage, adding a third player for Brown and left guard Joe Thuney to account for in the rush.
"We were a bit compromised on that. They hadn't come up much," Scarnecchia said. "We worked on it, now he gets it, and hopefully it will be better."
Scarnecchia has also stressed the importance of Brown playing lower on combination blocks with the 6-foot-5 Thuney, as well as conditioning.
"I think those are always concerns with a guy as big as he is, and he's worked really hard at it, to lose some weight and be in the best shape he can," Scarnecchia said. "So yeah, it's something we're really going to keep an eye on. I think as the season goes, it will be a lot better and as the weather cools, I think it will be a lot better."
Overall, the results have been favorable.
"He definitely has the skills to play out there. There's no doubt," Scarnecchia said. "He's long, he's big, he's a powerful guy. We like what we see, and we'll just have to see how it looks when everything gets going here."