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NFL AM: Patriots Put LT Nate Solder On IR

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Patriots Lose Solder For Season

Sunday’s 30-6 New England Patriots victory over the Dallas Cowboys came at a significant cost as the defending Super Bowl champs lost starting left tackle Nate Solder for the season with a torn biceps.

Solder left the field on his own after Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford registered an eight-yard sack of quarterback Tom Brady. Solder’s right arm appeared to be extended in a compromising position as Crawford rushed past him on the play.

The former first-round pick from Colorado has started every game for the Patriots over the last two seasons and has only missed one game since he joined the New England in 2011. Five-year veteran Marcus Cannon is the Patriots’ top backup and replaced Solder on Sunday.

With the vacant roster spot, the Patriots claimed cornerback Rashaad Melvin off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens.

Solder is a player that the Patriots feel is very good, and normally any team losing their starting left tackle is a pretty big deal.  With that said, nobody does “plug and play” better than New England and seemingly everyone that steps in finds immediate success.

Breakout Season For Barnidge

The Cleveland Browns were looking to make some great strides this season and with a 2-3 record after five games, they still have some work to do.

One of the biggest surprises in the NFL has been the Browns offense, which currently ranks sixth in the NFL.

Quarterback Josh McCown is playing some of the best football of his 13-year career and he’s being helped by someone who was mostly an afterthought in NFL circles, tight end Gay Barnidge.

“I don’t know if I can say that we expected him to have the production that he’s had, but Gary’s a good football player, and we’ve known that for a long time,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “When teams want to concentrate their efforts defensively other places and they want to open up the middle of the field, Gary Barnidge is a master at doing his job. He gets open. He catches the ball. He can run after the catch.

“He understands defensive football very well, understands how teams are trying to play him and recognizing coverages. He’s a good athlete with good ball skills and he’s got a very high football acumen.”

Barnidge has been primarily a backup for six years (seven seasons if you count 2011 when he missed 16 games with a broken ankle), and has been a great surprise.  In just five games this season, he already has career highs in receptions (24), yards (374) and touchdowns (3).

The former Louisville Cardinals star has been a big reason why the passing game has worked so well for the Browns, despite having a bunch of “no names.”

“I just think the success that we’ve had throwing the football should certainly open things up,” Pettine said. “Our best runs in the last two weeks have come from opened-up formations, where we’ve had some run-pass options on them.

“I think we need to mix it up. Each week is going to call for a different plan and I think the successful offenses in this league almost have that chameleon-type ability that they’re going to change with their circumstances.”

The 30-year old has certainly surprised many and not many figured that he would actually be an upgrade over Jordan Cameron.

Injury Updates

– The Baltimore Ravens are dangerously thin at running back as they placed Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve with a foot injury.

Taliaferro’s loss wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it wasn’t for the injury to starting running back Justin Forsett, who went down during Sunday’s loss with an ankle injury.

“It’s not a high ankle (sprain), I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said about the injury. “So, that’s a good sign, and it gives him a chance, certainly, for this week.”

If Forsett can’t go, the backfield duties will go to rookie Buck Allen from USC.  Allen is the team’s second-leading rusher with 124 yards on 26 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

– Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles fully participated in Wednesday’s practice after suffering a Grade 1 shoulder sprain.

Bortles is coming off one of the best games of his career as he completed 23 of 33 throws, for 303 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception in the team’s 38-31 loss to Tampa Bay.

“This morning they said he felt pretty good and he could go, so it was great,” said Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. “Any time you can get practice reps it’s always good, especially for a guy like Blake.”

Jacksonville was without rookie running back T.J. Yeldon, who injured his groin in Sunday’s loss after scoring the first touchdown of his career.

They did get some good news at the position as running back Denard Robinson returned to practice.  He has been out since injuring his groin in Week 2.  Robinson was arguably the team’s best running back in preseason and is a much needed weapon in the Jaguars offense.

As for who would be the starting running back in Sunday’s game against Houston, at this point it’s anyone’s guess.

“We don’t know with T.J,” Bradley said.  “T.J. was out there for walk through but he didn’t go through any practice this afternoon. The first guy that went out there was Toby. We’ll see. We didn’t know with D-Rob and we didn’t know with some of these guys.”


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.