FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If starting left tackle Nate Solder is unable to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, the contingency plan for the New England Patriots might be moving Logan Mankins (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) into that spot from left guard.
That’s what the Patriots did in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins after Solder left the game with a head injury.
At his Wednesday news conference, coach Bill Belichick didn’t provide any details on Solder’s condition – saying the club will update its injury report per league guidelines later in the day (Solder wasn't at practice) – but did get in to Mankins’ unique ability to kick outside.
In fact, Belichick said that easily could have been Mankins’ long-term position had things worked out differently in terms of the Patriots already having Matt Light on the roster, and then drafting Solder in 2011.
“There’s no question he could have played left tackle in this league. I don’t think there was ever a thought, from the coaching staff or myself, that he couldn’t play left tackle,” Belichick said, also pointing out that Mankins played left tackle at Fresno State. “That wasn’t it. It was more we have a good left tackle and [Mankins] can play guard.”
Belichick was asked about players with a similar skill set that have been on past teams he coached, and he mentioned, among others, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden.
“He was drafted by the Ravens [in 1996], played left guard his first year when Tony Jones was the tackle, and then the next year they moved him out to tackle,” Belichick said.
“I think players like that, who are elite players, you’re going to find a way to get them into the lineup somewhere. Sometimes the circumstances are not at what ends up being their primary position.”
It has been in Mankins' case, although that could change this week if Solder is ruled out.