With top eight on O-line back, Patriots focus on backup spots

Nate Solder is entering the final year of his contract, so the Patriots drafted a couple of young tackles as insurance in case he departs. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have their first public training camp practice on July 27. As part of the lead-up to camp, one position will be spotlighted each weekday to highlight the team's personnel and some of the storylines of note.

After looking at wide receivers on Monday, we move on to offensive linemen on Tuesday.

Tackle: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Tony Garcia, Cameron Fleming, LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Andrew Jelks, Max Rich

Guard: Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Ted Karras, Jamil Douglas, Chase Farris, Jason King

Center: David Andrews, James Ferentz

Roster locks: Solder, Cannon, Garcia, Thuney, Mason, Andrews

Health report: Part of the success of the Patriots’ offensive line last season was having five starters all play more than 90 percent of the snaps. The club naturally hopes to duplicate that in 2017.

Competition is for backup spots: With the team’s top eight linemen returning -- starters Solder, Thuney, Andrews, Mason and Cannon, along with top backups Fleming, Waddle and Karras -- the main competition in training camp, if everyone stays healthy, will be for depth-providing spots.

Rookies in focus: The Patriots traded up to select Garcia, of Troy, in the third round. They gave up a third-rounder and fourth-rounder to make the pick, which reflects how strongly they felt about him as a player (and perhaps, how much of a drop-off there was at the position after him). ... McDermott, of UCLA, was selected in the sixth round and is a developmental prospect who could be a threat to be claimed by another team if the Patriots attempt to get him to the practice squad. ... Croston, Jelks, Rich and King were signed as undrafted free agents.

Solder’s contract status is part of planning: The Patriots traded four draft picks to select Garcia and McDermott. Part of the reasoning behind those moves might have been related to Solder being in the last year of his contract. As part of that deal, the club cannot assign the franchise tag to him. Developing young offensive tackles as insurance makes sense.

Quote of note: "Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played, so I’m glad we have him moving forward. Works hard, quiet kid, but he’s very dependable, team-oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, passing game. Good player.” -- Bill Belichick on Marcus Cannon in November 2016, after the club signed him to a five-year extension through 2021.