|Matthew Slater on Nate Solder’s testicular cancer: ‘The way he handled that last year was really admirable’||04.21.15 at 3:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The general population learned Tuesday morning of Nate Solder being diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer prior to last season. But, for some of his teammates they knew last year, and were blown away with how he handled it, especially during a Super Bowl winning season.
“I was aware of it, and you know, I have so much respect for Nate Solder and the type of man that he is, the faith in God that he has and the way he carries himself and I can’t think of anyone who’s handled a situation like that better than he did,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “I don’t want to get too much in detail, I’ll let him speak on that, but Nate Solder is a great man and the way he handled that last year was really admirable, with so much courage and a positive attitude, a sense of peace, it was really something to behold.”
Devin McCourty, another veteran and team captain, said he knew, but said there were some players on the team who didn’t.
“I don’t know if everyone knew,” he said. “I think some guys knew, but I think that was more for him a personal process. It wasn’t something as a team that everyone talked about, it was more for him. I think as a teammate you’re just blown away by everything he was able to do — getting over that, playing at a high level.
“To me it was highly impressive. Nate is a great guy and he does so many things — on the field, off the field and I think that is another battle that he passed and now he’s going to do great things with it spreading awareness.”
The report Tuesday morning said Solder goes to Mass General every three months for check ups and everything is going according to plan.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
In an interview with ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, Patriots left tackle Nate Solder revealed he was diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer prior to the 2014 season. He said he first became suspicious right before his season physical. After the physical he received an ultrasound and three days later he had surgery.
“I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise,” Solder said to Reiss. “You Google something like that and it kind of scares you, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to freak out about this.’ Had I not had a routine physical, I probably wouldn’t have checked it, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just in my head, I’m going to be fine.'”
Solder is now out to raise awareness, urging people to get checkups regularly to raise early detection. Solder still goes to Mass General for checkups every three months, and everything has gone as expected so far and there is optimism it will continue to moving forward.
“I was completely healthy, I’m a professional athlete. It can happen to anybody,” Solder said. “Make sure you get yourself checked out, especially young men, because that’s who it’s really targeted toward.”
The left tackle credited his Christian faith and his wife Lexi along with his family with helping him deal with the process.
“The biggest thing is letting people know and giving them the information. And maybe giving people some courage that if they are in a situation like I was, maybe they would go and say something, and that could make a difference,” he said.
“It’s more common than people realize. A lot of people are either afraid to do it, or they don’t think it’s important enough to get it checked. It’s a simple check. Six months, a year, and then it starts spreading and then you start to feel symptoms and it’s a more serious situation. So that’s a big thing; you can save lives with early detection.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|A brief history of Patriots and their pre-draft contact with recent top picks||03.16.15 at 1:50 pm ET|
With the pre-draft process now in full swing — and private workouts and visits looming for each team starting later this month — fans and media alike will undoubtedly try and gauge the level of the Patriots’ interest in a player through visits, contact and workout sessions. With the understanding that some of the pre-draft conversations can be a smokescreen, some of it can be done for intel down the road and some of can be for practical scouting purposes, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections New England has made with some of their top draft picks over the last seven years.
Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (taken with New England’s first pick in 2014, 29th overall): Easley was brought in to Foxboro for a pre-draft visit with the Patriots. He later recalled that Bill Belichick showed up at his pro day, and they “talked a whole lot and got to know each other,” according to the Florida product.
Linebacker Jamie Collins (taken with New England’s first pick in 2013, a second-round selection at No. 52 overall): Belichick flew South to work out Collins before the draft, but the linebacker later indicated he didn’t talk much with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process, at least when compared to other teams.
Defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round pick 2012, 21st overall): Jones said the only substantive contact he had with New England prior to being drafted was a conversation at the combine that winter in Indy. “I talked to the Patriots — I talked with them at the combine,” he said. “That was the most formal thing we did. That’s basically it — we talked at the combine.”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick 2012, 25th overall): He didn’t work out for Patriots, but he said he “had a small (idea)” the Patriots were interested, he indicated following the draft. “I met with those guys at the combine and I met them at one of the pro days,” Hightower recalled, “I knew that they were kind of interested in some of the defensive players that we had at Alabama.”
Tackle Nate Solder (first-round pick 2011, 17th overall): Solder had “fairly limited contact” with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. He met with former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia the Monday before the draft in Colorado, but also had a scheduled visit to Foxboro cancelled at the last minute as he was preparing to leave for New England. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Solder later explained. “I was scheduled to visit (but), the minute before I left, it was cancelled. That’s all I know.”
Defensive back Devin McCourty (first-round pick 2010, 27th overall): McCourty met with Belichick prior to the draft, where the two had a film session on campus at Rutgers. “Bill Belichick had come to my school for a coaches’ clinic, and he was going to fly right out after the clinic to see his son play in a lacrosse game,” McCourty recalled. “But we had an hour, we watched some film and we spoke for a little while. We had a real generic conversation, but he showed me some things on film, just watching and helping me out as far as being a player.”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo (first-round pick, 2008, 10th overall): Mayo had 11 visits with teams during the pre-draft process, and remembers his visit to Foxboro fondly. “I had a great visit when I came down there,” he said after the draft. “The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked.”
|Patriots players dismiss talk of deflated footballs||01.19.15 at 2:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots players weren’t in the mood Monday afternoon to talk about the report of deflated footballs in Sunday’s AFC title game.
Reports have surfaced that the Colts believe that there were some partially deflated footballs used in Sunday’s game, with a story from WTHR-TV in Indianapolis quoting a source saying the Patriots partially deflated the footballs.
“I don’t know anything about that. I’m glad I caught it,” he said with a smile. “[But] I don’t anything about that. Nothing.”
Wide receiver Julian Edelman was a little more dismissive of the idea that deflated balls played a role in the game.
“No. I don’t even know anything about that. I think it’s just a story. Whatever,” he said Monday. “I don’t know anything about it, like I said. It’s funny.”
According to NFL rules, officials test game footballs two hours prior to kickoff, and they can measure the pressure during the game. As a result, it’s not clear how a team could deflate footballs surreptitiously during a contest.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady laughed off the talk on WEEI on Monday morning, saying he had ‘no idea’ what the controversy was all about.
‘I think I’ve heard it all at this point,’ he said.
Added Brady: ‘That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.’
|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘Just a great win by our team’||at 9:08 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday night’s rout of the Colts in the AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“It was just a great win by our team,” Brady said. “It was an exciting one to be a part of. We put a lot of work into this year, and then to have it culminate in really a great all-around performance last night, it was pretty sweet for everybody.”
The Patriots were 2-2 after four games and raising concern for their inconsistent play before turning things around. Brady said he takes no additional satisfaction because of where the team was at the end of September.
“I don’t think it does [matter],” he said. “Look, there’s a lot of people that say good things about you, there’s a lot of people that say bad things about you. I think just as professional athletes you have to show up to work every day and focus on doing your job and doing everything you have to do to help your team win and succeed at a high level on a weekly basis.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go right, as I said, all season long. You don’t win every single game. You’re certainly never going to throw in the towel. We stayed focused, we stayed with what we were expecting ourselves to do, which was make improvements over the course of the season. It puts us in a pretty good place going into the playoffs, and we took care of business twice at home. So that was a great thing.”
After being favored in both of their AFC playoff games, the Patriots are underdogs for their Super Bowl matchup against the defending champion Seahawks. Brady claims the Patriots won’t use this underdog status as inspiration.
“Whatever it is, it is. I don’t know who makes those decisions or things like that,” he said. “We’ll go in there with a lot of confidence. It doesn’t matter whether they think you’ll win or lose. A lot of people think we’ll win, a lot of people think we’ll lose. None of that stuff really matters to us.”
FOXBORO — The Patriots and their trickery were at it again.
On the opening drive of the second half, with the Patriots leading the Colts, 17-7, it was third-and-1 on the Colts’ 16-yard line and left tackle Nate Solder reported as an eligible receiver.
The Colts expected quarterback Tom Brady to hand it off to LeGarrette Blount with the Patriots running it down their throats on the drive, but Brady faked the hand off and Solder slipped behind the defense and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, diving into the end zone before he could be brought down.
It was Solder’s first career catch, although he did play some tight end in college at the University of Colorado.
“There is no way to know that was coming,” the humble Solder said after the game. “When the time came I did my best as anyone would’ve.”
Asked how he would rate his route on the catch, Solder couldn’t do anything but laugh.
“Just proficient,” he said. “I made it across the goal line.”
It was the second straight week the Patriots called a “trick play,” as in last week’s divisional round win over the Ravens, Josh McDaniels called a double-pass when Julian Edelman found Danny Amendola for a 51-yard touchdown strike.
“I feel fortunate to be a part of this group,” said Solder. “We have great coaches, great players. To be a part of this group is amazing.”
The touchdown electrified the Patriots’ sideline and was the start of 28 second half points for New England, including 21 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. The biggest celebration on the sidelines and on the field was with his fellow offensive linemen.
“Those are my guys, those are my guys,” Solder said. “To be around them, the excitement that they shared with me, it was like we all did it. That was a lot of fun.”
|Patriots offensive line at full strength vital to offense, Tom Brady’s success||01.07.15 at 7:00 am ET|
Not be to overlooked is the Patriots’ offensive line, especially with the group likely getting back to full strength this week against Baltimore, as Dan Connolly is set to return. This will be especially important going against a Ravens defense, which finished second in the regular season in sacks with 49.
“I’m just excited to be back at practice,” Connolly said Tuesday after missing the last two games with a knee injury. “I’m going to do my best to work in and try to get as healthy as I can. But it’s good to be back out.”
Just how important is a healthy offense line for the Patriots offense and Brady to be successful?
- Solder, Connolly, Stork, Wendell, Vollmer (7-1 record) — Weeks 5, 8-14: Brady: 214-320 (66.9 percent), 2,433 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 103.6 QB rating, 4 sacks
- Any combination besides above (5-3 record) — Weeks 1-4, 6, 7, 15, 16: Brady: 160-263 (60.8 percent), 1,675 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.8 QB rating, 17 sacks
It’s pretty clear having the starting offensive line together makes a huge difference for the offense, as well as Brady in a number of different ways. The biggest difference is sacks. In the same number of games (eight) there is a 13 sack difference between when the starting offensive line is playing and when they are not. In games not started by the regular offensive line, Brady has been sacked multiple times in five of the eight, and four times twice. In games started by the starting offensive line, they haven’t allowed a multiple sack game and had four games allowing zero sacks, which will be especially important this weekend against a strong Ravens defense.
“They’re great,” Connolly said of the Ravens’ pass rush. “[Elvis] Dumervil has got 19 sacks. They do a great job of getting to the quarterback. We’ve faced a lot of good D-lines this season. That’s nothing new in the NFL. It’s a lot of pressure on us to do a good job. That’s what we try to do every week. It’s our job to make sure Tom [Brady] stays upright, so that’s what we’re going to try to do this week, too.”