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Nate Solder was phenomenal for the New England Patriots in 2011 at the right tackle spot.
Now, in 2012, he's being asked to take over on the left side for recently-retired Matt Light—a team mainstay and one of the best left tackles in the NFL until he retired.
There's really no nice way to say it, so I'll just come out and say it: Solder has been awful, as has the entire offensive line.
It's been so bad that offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia felt obligated to vehemently come to the young man's defense, according to ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss:
Did any of you think that it was going to be [easy]? Did you think he had any problems with it to start with? Well, hell ya. They all [have] problems. I think Nate Solder is a better player today than he was all of last year, so you figure that out. Next question.
I don't expect Solder to struggle like he has all year long, but the learning curve at the left tackle position is steep. He'll be going up against the top pass-rushers in the league on a weekly basis, and the talent coming in year after year at that position is only getting better.
By the end of the season, Solder and his mates on the offensive line should have most of the bugs worked out, but it's going to take some time. Hopefully Tom Brady doesn't get blasted too hard in the meantime.