As we continue our look at the New York Giants 90-man training camp roster, we turn the page to veteran left tackle Nate Solder and all that he stands to potentially bring to a team that is looking to revamp its fortunes on and off the field.
Experience: 8th season
Position: Left tackle
Weight: 325 pounds
2017 season in review
Solder completed his seventh season with the New England Patriots as the blind-side protector of quarterback Tom Brady.
While Pro Football Focus data indicates that Solder had an “off year” in terms of his pass blocking — he allowed four sacks, 10 hits and 46 hurries for a career-high 60 quarterback disruptions, the Patriots offense still managed to finish first in the league in average yards gained per game (394.2).
Where Solder has really stood out is in the run-blocking department. Last year, he was part of a Super Bowl-bound offensive line that helped the league’s 10th-ranked rushing offense average more than 118 yards per game.
2018 season outlook
In case you haven’t noticed, the Giants have been putting a big premium on fixing their lethargic running game, which hasn’t seen a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 1,015 yards in 2012.
With quarterback Eli Manning advancing in age, it’s imperative that the team find a power rushing game to help take some of the onus off Manning, who has attempted more than 570 passes in each of the last four years — well over his average from earlier in his career.
Solder’s power in the run blocking department should be a big help to the Giants running game, featuring rookie Saquon Barkley, getting back to being the threat it used to be in the Bradshaw-Brandon Jacobs era.
Off the field, Solder, the Patriots’ 2017 “Walter Payton Man of the Year Award” nominee, is a tireless champion of multiple charitable causes, many of which revolve around bettering the lives of children stricken with serious illnesses.
Solder, who successfully fought the testicular cancer he was diagnosed with in 2014, is particularly interested in children’s cancers thanks in part to his soon to be 3-year-old son, Hudson, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was just three months old.
The outlook is promising for young Hudson, but Solder knows that there are countless other young cancer patients who don’t have as promising a prognosis. Through his work in the community, he’s hoping to do whatever he can to help make the lives of these young people and their families a little brighter.
If all that isn’t enough to be excited over Solder’s presence on the roster, then how about his winning pedigree?
The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs every season since they drafted Solder in the first round out of Colorado in 2011, so he brings with a breadth of winning playoff experience to the table.
When a team such as the Giants is trying to correct a locker room culture that last year seemed to forget how to win following their successful 2016 season, guys like Solder are invaluable.
They know what it takes and more importantly, rather than shoving it down people’s throats, they know how to get the message across diplomatically.
Take for instance Solder’s post practice work with Ereck Flowers during an OTA that was open to the media. In an interview for The Athletic, Solder told me that the scene in which reporters witnessed him working with Flowers after practice was actually one in which he asked Flowers to help him run a blocking drill that he had always done during his time in New England.
Solder got his work in and, hey, if Flowers picked up a new trick or two to help him as he makes his transition to right tackle, then even better.