The Patriots announced on Wednesday that Matt Light will be the next former player inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and the 11-year starter at left tackle is a worthy addition to that group.
Another player who could be up for induction one day is the guy who replaced Light at left tackle in 2012. Nate Solder was an obvious choice to replace Light back then, but the team doesn’t have the same kind of sure thing in place now that Solder has moved on to the Giants as a free agent.
While speaking to the media on Wednesday, Light said that Solder is not someone “you can just replace.”
“From the first time I met him, I thought, ‘Man, this just shouldn’t be right that big guys like this are designed the way they are,’ Light said, via ESPN.com. “No fat. Runs like a deer. Got the reach and wingspan of a vulture. The guy is just unbelievably talented in so many ways, and he’s smart, a cerebral player. You don’t replace a guy like that overnight.”
Light added that he thinks the team is up to the task of finding the right guy, even if it means “juggling a lot of guys in and out, and trying to play them at multiple positions” with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia overseeing it all.
“They survived me going through that first year of being lost in so many ways and trying to figure out things on the run,” Light said. “I would say this, for all the fans out there, it’s been documented but I’m not sure it’s been appreciated as it should be, but the work Dante does and the work he puts into the offseason — and the work he puts into the young guys that are coming into the organization and how he motivates those guys and pushes them to be in the best position possible to play the game — I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to prepare the guys he thinks are the best to take the field.”
Light and Solder each missed big chunks of seasons with injuries, but it has been a largely steady two decades at a key position thanks to their presence. Be it first-round pick Isaiah Wynn or someone else, the Patriots would love to find a successor who could extend that to 2018 and beyond.