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Bill Belichick expects more touchbacks, no issue with crowded depth chart at tackle

08.13.11 at 2:14 pm ET

FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated Saturday that the opening scene of Thursday night’s preseason opener may end up becoming rather familiar given the new kickoff rules. Patriots kicker Chris Koepplin booted the opening kickoff out of the end zone for a touchback, one of several in the game. It is anticipated the touchbacks will increase throughout the league as a result of kickoffs being moves from the 30-yard-line to the 35-yard-line.

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that league wide there will be more touchbacks this year,” Belichick said. “I think statistically that’s pretty well documented We had our meetings in March, and that was the proponents of the rule, but that’s what they wanted. They wanted to see more touchbacks and less kickoff returns. I’m sure statistically that that will happen.”

Belichick noted that it will be interesting to see if teams, depending on their situations, end up carrying a kickoff specialist at the expense of another position, such as third-string quarterback.

“We’ll have to see how that goes,” he said, “but the people who proposed the rule, a big argument for it was to have more touchbacks. I would imagine that when you look at the end of the year, there will be more touchbacks.”
Belichick said that offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, whom the team drafted in the fifth round is “doing what he can do” as he works his way back from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“He’s in all the meetings,” Belichick said of the Texas Christian product. “He’s on his own workout program. He does the things that everybody does, but they’re specifically for him. Some things he can mainstream, other things he can’t, but that’s all based on medicals.”

With regard to other offensive linemen in the team’s group of tackles, Belichick added that the Pats didn’t let the fact that they had drafted left tackle Nate Solder in the first round prevent them from retaining starter Matt Light. The team re-upped Light on a two-year deal, and the team now has three tackles capable of starting in Light, Solder and All-Pro Sebastian Vollmer.

“Matt’s been a good player for us,” Belichick said of Light. “He’s been here and played very well for us through the years and been a really consistent player. The more good players you have on your team, the better your team is. Matt gives us — as well as playing, he gives us a lot of other things. I think he’s good for our football team. I don’t think you can have too many good players, especially at that position .

With Light on the physically unable to perform list for Thursday’s preseason opener (he reportedly was set to return to practice Saturday), Solder started at left tackle and played the first 10 offensive drives. Belichick said that neither Light nor the Patriots are concerned with the number of capable tackles on the roster.

“We worked it out. Matt and I have talked about the situation,” Belichick said. “Obviously we feel comfortable with him on the team, and and he felt comfortable signing with the team, so I didn’t see any reason now to go full speed ahead with it.”

Read More: 2011 training camp, Bill Belichick, Marcus Cannon, Matt Light



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