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Patriots getting creative with extra blockers

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Posted Oct. 06, 2011 @ 7:39 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots are getting creative with their personnel when it comes to a blocking tight end. They cut two rookies in camp, Will Yeatman and Lee Smith, and also released Dan Gronkowski after two games. For now, Bill Belichick is sticking with what's on his roster and using versatile players who have some experience playing offense.

OT Nate Solder, the team's first-round pick and a converted tight end, took 18 snaps as a third tight end in the team's Week Two game against the Chargers. He has been starting at right tackle with Sebastian Vollmer out.

OT Thomas Welch played a surprise role after being called up from the practice squad, as he was in on 24 snaps in the win over the Raiders as a sixth blocker. Belichick said that Welch went to college as a tight end and even played quarterback in high school.

LB Dane Fletcher has played in 10 snaps on offense through four games as the team's blocking back near the goal line, and he was even targeted in the season opener.

The Patriots don't have a fullback, and they didn't have one last year, although TE Alge Crumpler essentially played that role, as well as Sammy Morris. The team tried out former Dolphins FB Lousaka Polite last week and have veteran TE Garrett Mills on the practice squad. Regardless of who is playing the position, we know the team will make an effort to get an extra blocker on the field, and it certailnly helped the run game get going against Oakland.

(All snap numbers courtesy of ESPN Boston)

 

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