Patriots Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line

The offensive line has long been a point of pride for the New England Patriots. But recent years have brought transition, and they will be further put to the test with this offseason’s departure of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

The Pats were able to reinforce their line in the draft this year, and with the return of Sebastian Vollmer, the Pats should once again be able to give Tom Brady top-notch protection.

Here’s our preview of the offensive line.

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Good look at some of the depth along the offensive line. Braxton Cave and Josh Kline are two guys we haven’t talked much about this offseason, despite believing offensive line was really in need of the boost it got in the draft. It boils down to having really good competition for camp and the injury insurance that kind of depth provides. I think that the starting fivesome when the season starts could be surprising.

Depth is the Patriots line’s secret weapon. Stork is a well-regarded prospect. Marcus Cannon is a massive super-sub who played well in place of Vollmer and others last year. Guard Josh Kline played mistake-free and opened some holes in a spot start last year, and rookies Cameron Fleming and Jon Halapio ensure depth-chart competition. Some teams may boast a more talented top five, but none can offer a more prepared and capable top eight.

Good stuff from Rich Hill at PatsPulpit, illustrating the Pats decline in short yardage situations. Like most anyone, including Rich, I’m surprised at Sammy Morris’ numbers in those situations, but as Rich points out, much of this is attributed to the quality of the interior linemen.

The decline must be directly linked to the transition from Mankins-Koppen-Neal to our current Mankins-Wendell-Connolly. This is obviously a point I’ve hit on a lot this offseason - the need to upgrade the interior OL for the long term. I think they need to spend at least one high-round pick at G or C.

The New England Patriots have allowed a total of three sacks in their last five games. Since allowing four sacks to the Denver Broncos in Week 5, the Patriots’ offensive line has done a much better job of protecting Tom Brady. New England’s ability to run the ball and Brady’s quick release have also contributed to the improvement in this area.

7. New England Patriots PB = 16th, RB = 3rd, PEN = 1st Even with Logan Mankins less than 100% the line has still come together to play well with nobody more so than Sebastian Vollmer. Special credit to the run blocking of Ryan Wendell, and how Nate Solder has held up at left tackle.