Jan 14, 2012, Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots guard Brian Waters (54) during an AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

When Will Brian Waters Return?

No seriously, when will the New England Patriots be seeing veteran right guard Brian Waters? He was excused from the start of training camp due to personal reasons, and Bill Belichick was unsurprisingly quiet about the absence of one of the top pass protecting guards in the NFL.

At the age of 35, Waters isn’t getting any younger but he’s still one of the best guards in the league and most likely isn’t retiring. So why has he been absent so far? Does he want to get more rest? Is he injured? Is he on the way out? If you guys reading this piece know why or have a suggestion, then please leave a comment, especially if I’m missing something here.

In any case, the Patriots need Brian Waters on the line and playing. Not only is he a great offensive lineman but having him allows Dan Connolly to start at center over the aging Dan Koppen. I’m fine with Koppen playing, but he needs to have a lighter workload. Besides, Connolly is the better player at this stage. It’s fine starting Connolly at right guard, but it’s best to have him at center and Waters at RG.

One of the key reasons is because of the uncertainty at the right tackle position. Former second-team All-Pro Sebastian Vollmer has been slowed by injuries recently, including an ankle injury that he is still nursing. Vollmer is still a good player, but he’s not a guarantee to be in the starting line-up every week due to injuries. Also, a 28-year-old right tackle suffering from foot and leg injuries will likely be a little less effective on the right side. If Vollmer goes down, then the inexperienced Marcus Cannon will have to start.

That’s the thing, if Cannon starts then having a veteran, future Hall of Fame guard in Brian Waters next to him is the best thing that can happen. Cannon is a subpar pass blocker, as we’ve witnessed in the first preseason game, right now, but he has a lot of talent. Waters is a great pass blocker and can not only help mentor Cannon to help the young tackle reach his full potential, but he can also help him out if Cannon gives up pressure by being next to him on the right side.

If Brian Waters doesn’t return to the New England Patriots this season for some reason, then the Pats can cope. The interior of the line will be worse for wear with Koppen at center and Connolly at guard, but that’s not a bad combination by any means. If needed, Connolly can switch to center for Koppen, while the solid Ryan Wendell fills in at right guard to give Koppen a rest.

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Tags: Brian Waters Dan Connolly Dan Koppen Marcus Cannon New England Patriots Ryan Wendell Sebastian Vollmer

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