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2008 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line

Here’s the schedule for the training camp previews:
Sunday: O-Line
Monday: Tight Ends and Wide Receivers
Tuesday: Quarterbacks and Runningbacks
Wednesday: Special Teams and Coaching

Offensive Line

Key Departures: None
Key Arrivals: None

Breakdown

The unit which was lauded throughout the regular season in 2007 as the best in the business and given some credit for the Pats historic offensive season was given the most blame for the loss in Super Bowl XLII. The offensive line was eaten alive by the Giants front seven and Brady spent much of the time on the turf. Guys like Logan Mankins – who had a breakout 2007 season – had horrid outings in the biggest game of their careers and now leaves Patriots fan scratching their heads as to what to think of the unit.

Many of the potential problems heading into this season started last year and that’s on the right side of the line. We all know about the off the field problems of RT Nick Kaczur, and the injuries to RG Stephen Neal have hampered his progress. Guys like Billy Yates and Ryan O’Callaghan have tried to fill in on the line, but with little success. O’Callaghan has the size (6’7″, 330 lbs) and I think he could become a decent lineman. Dan Koppen is a Pro-Bowler at Center, and despite their problems in the Super Bowl, LT Matt Light and LG Logan Mankins are still one of the best pairings in the AFC. Ross Hochstein is a serviceable backup at several different positions.

It seems as though the Patriots may have to do some tinkering on the right side at who knows what kind of mental state Kaczur will be in and Neal cannot seem to stay healthy. There doesn’t seem to be any promising rookies on the team ready to step in early on, so it’ll be interesting to see how they plan to protect No. 12 in the backfield. The dynamic passing attack is predicated on solid blocking, and as the Giants showed, the Pats can be beat on a given day by speedy defensive ends.

Final Analysis

As previously stated, the offensive line is key to the success of the offense, that’s a no-brainer. In 2007 the offensive line dominated opponent after opponent until the Super Bowl. To be fair, the Giants had a dynamic and hungry defensive front seven who simply outplayed the Pats. I’m a little worried about the right side because there are no proven backups at those positions. I hope O’Callaghan can take the next step and become a starter but I’m not sold just yet.

I see the line dominating weaker opponents, but with Matt Light getting a little long in the tooth, I could see some fast defenses giving Brady trouble off the edge.

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