A previously unknown wrinkle to the Robert Gallery signing was unveiled recently when the eighth-year pro took time to speak with New England-based media personnel.
Gallery admitted that he had no defined role with the team in comments reported by ESPN.com. When pressed on where he'd be more comfortable playing, Gallery said, "I’m going to do what’s best for the team. I want to win. Whatever these coaches decide, they’re going to put the best guys on the field, that’s up to them."
It has been abundantly clear that creating competition at as many positions as possible was a priority this offseason for the Patriots. The offensive line has experienced one verified deflection from last year, following the retirement of Matt Light, but many investments have been made as well.
Gallery was brought in, Dan Connolly was re-signed and Dan Koppen is returning to the fold after missing all but one game in 2011.
The team has made three high-profile selections on the line in the past three years as well. The continued progression of Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon only add to the potential and depth of this unit.
Currently, New England boasts three centers with starting experience in Koppen, Connolly and Ryan Wendell. The starting job is Koppen's to lose, and with a year off from football, I don't think that'll happen.
That frees up Connolly to be utilized at guard, where the Patriots have even more experienced options. Connolly, Gallery, Cannon, Logan Mankins, Nick McDonald and Donald Thomas all possess guard eligibility and starting experience. I'd throw Brian Waters' name into the hat too, but his silence this offseason has me thinking a retirement is on the horizon.
At tackle, the option list is almost as impressive with Solder, Vollmer, Gallery and Cannon. Your shortest option on that list is Cannon, who comes in a few inches under the rest at 6'5''. Vollmer finds himself as the lightest at 315.
The Patriots have done a magnificent job planning for every possibility while assembling this cast of characters.
If Koppen can't perform up to standards, there are two in place to step up. If Mankins can't play early on there are enough pieces and versatility to shuffle around. If the youngsters fail to progress, or in the case of Vollmer, if they can't stay healthy, there's enough veteran talent around to fall back on.
"I’ve been told that they’re going to put the best five guys on the field", said Gallery. "I’m going to be one of the best five guys, that’s my goal. And they’re going to put guys where they see fit."
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