New England Patriots' Offensive Line Quietly Becoming a Concern

Ryan BurnsAnalyst IOctober 16, 2008

One of the most frustrating aspects of this 2008 New England Patriots campaign has been the quarterback play of Matt Cassel. Fans are frustrated because, on the surface, it seems like he holds onto the ball too long, takes far too many sacks, and rushes throws when facing pressure.

Generally speaking, Cassel doesn't look comfortable quite yet, and that could be because of the offensive line, a much-heralded group of players who have underachieved so far this year. While they have done a commendable job of run blocking, the pocket collapses too easily each time Cassel drops back to pass, something that has to change going forward.

And now it looks much worse for the team.

Matt Light did not participate in Wednesday's practice due to an apparent knee injury.  While he played the entire game versus the Chargers, this injury is a scary one to come to grips with for the Patriots, who have to get back on track this week against the Broncos on Monday Night Football.

Equally scary was the right-ankle injury to right tackle Nick Kaczur, suffered during the Chargers game. He was helped off of the field and never returned to action. Kaczur also did not practice on Wednesday, which does not bode well for the Patriots, as both of their starting tackles could conceivably miss what amounts to the biggest game of the year so far.

The Patriots' offensive line got some good news on Wednesday, however, as guard Stephen Neal and tackle Oliver Ross began practice yesterday for the first time this year, as both linemen were on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. Both players were ready to go yesterday. Ross, No. 76, said: "It's the first time going out there in a while, so you get to knock the rust off a little bit."

The team has three weeks to determine if both will make the 53-man roster or be put on the season-ending IR list. 

Either way, the Patriots will have major questions if Kaczur and Light cannot go.