Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is hit by New Orleans Saints defensive endAkiem Hicks
(76) during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Fourth round draft picks Shaquille Mason and Tre’ Jackson were solid against the pass rush, but struggled in the running game. Undrafted rookie free agent center David Andrews was beat repeatedly in the running game although he was solid as well in pass protection. Expected starting guard Ryan Wendell remained out on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and center Bryan Stork was out with an undisclosed injury.
Veteran tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer returned to action for the first time in 2015. Vollmer exited with quarterback Tom Brady in the first quarter, but Solder had significant playing time and was solid in pass protection. Second year second-string tackle Cameron Fleming showed up with two penalties but beyond the two very public mental mistakes played well at right tackle. Veteran tackle Marcus Cannon has missed much of training camp and could be passed by Fleming on the depth chart.
Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is grabbed, but not sacked, by New Orleans Saints defensive tackleBobby Richards
on (78) in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Young blocker Chris Martin turned in a surprise solid performance at left tackle. Martin was a long-shot for a roster spot coming into camp but suddenly seems like a lock on the offensive line. The 2014 undrafted free agent out of Central Florida was on multiple team’s practice squads last year and was cut by Miami this summer. Chris Barker moved back to guard this week after playing at left tackle last week. but has already made Jordan Devey expandable with his solid play and versatility.
Recent pick-up Ryan Groy struggled in pass protection, letting pass rushers get to Garoppolo on multiple occasions in the second half. Expected starting left guard Josh Kline continued to build versatility playing at center and was strong at the point of attack. A solid run-blocker, he showed punch in pass protection as well and most-importantly handled the line calls and snapping without incident.
The Patriots will go into the season with Solder and Vollmer on the edges, with Stork at center. Expect Kline and Wendell to hold down the guard spots. Wendell’s status is unknown going into the season and one of the rookies on the offensive line at guard. Mason is still a work in progress but has progressed dramatically in training camp so far. With Tre’ Jackson more advanced as a pass blocker, he has the inside track to start on opening day at right guard next to his Florida State teammate Stork.
Next: The Tight Ends