Of the three new starters on the New York Giants offensive line, left tackle Nate Solder has generated the most buzz. The 2011 first-round pick of the New England Patriots came to the Giants on a four-year, $62 million deal in March to serve as the cornerstone of the new-look unit. But, ever the veteran, Solder was pragmatic when speaking to the media during training camp on Thursday.
Solder deflected the notion that his presence alone will be enough to improve a line that has underperformed over the last few seasons. He quickly turned the attention away from himself and to the entire unit, saying instead that, “I don’t think there’s any one player that makes that much of an impact. It’s all about the team so whatever’s best for the team we all work together.”
Solder added, “It’s all about locking arms and fighting for each other, caring for each other, and working the best you can together.”
He also didn’t declare that building chemistry with his fellow linemen would be an overnight achievement. While he said that, “we’re going to work at that every single day and see the game through the same set of eyes,” he was not willing to give a timetable of how long that would take, given camp has just opened.
Solder also dismissed his experience with the Patriots as giving him the privilege to step into a new locker room and be treated as a leader. Instead he’s taking a team-player approach:
“I think my role here is to listen to the coaches, do the best I can with the work they’ve given me and work together with my teammates. You see a lot of big games where experience doesn’t matter at all and it’s how you execute and how you play together... I’m just going to work with these guys, try to improve my game the best that I can, and then worry about that.”
The Patriots are also a subject Solder does not seem interested in revisiting. When asked to compare the two organizations, he simply said, “I don’t know. I think the emphasis is football, getting better at playing football. I think, no matter where you are, that’s the goal.”
He was also prodded to draw comparisons between his former head coach, Bill Belichick, and his current coach, Pat Shurmur, but Solder went the diplomatic route, saying only, “[T]hat’s behind me. I’m glad to be here, the guys I’m with. This is an excellent opportunity and I’m so excited about it. Everything else is just water under the bridge.”
However, Solder did make clear that he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the quarterback he’s charged with protecting. Whether Tom Brady or Eli Manning, “I have to focus on my job and my job is to block the defensive end or whoever’s coming in front of me. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into whoever’s behind me.”
The Giants, however, put a lot of thought — and a good deal of cash — to put a tackle of Solder’s caliber in front of Manning in hopes of keeping him better protected. As as long as Solder is as all-business on the field as he is among the media, the investment into the 30-year old should pay off.