New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Nov 6, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears offensive lineman Riley Reiff (71) blocks against the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field. Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2023 season, offensive line – particularly the tackle spot – is one of if not the biggest positional question on the Patriots roster. Last year the Patriots struggled at the position. 26.8 percent of the pressures they allowed came off left tackle, and another 29.9 percent came off right tackle. Those ranked fourth- and second-most in the NFL respectively, per PFF.

Instead of making a splash move in a talented free agency class at the position this offseason, the Patriots instead made moves on the margins. In addition to re-signing Conor McDermott and Yodny Cajuste (while letting Isaiah Wynn walk), they added an unproven, upside player in Calvin Anderson, and then signed 11-year NFL veteran Riley Reiff shortly after.

  • Reiff’s addition highlights what appears to be the strength of this offensive line group as spring practices – versatility. While it will be a bit of a puzzle to put the starting five together, the Patriots have plenty of combinations they can work with. Reiff began his career as a left tackle, but has played exclusively on the right side the past two years in Cincinnati in 2021 and Chicago in 2022.

    The 34-year-old isn’t alone in bringing that positional versatility to the offensive line. Trent Brown also has experience starting on the left and right sides. Anderson and Cajuste also have experience playing both left and right, and guards Mike Onwenu and rookie Sidy Sow both have experience at right tackle as well.

    That kind of versatility, to that extent, isn’t common. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Reiff shared what it’s like moving positions from one side of the line to the other, which he shared he began doing in college.

  • “At first it was hard. I’m a little bit used to it now,” he explained. “That’s just something where you bank the reps and you put in the extra time to get it right. It’s harder than it looks. But yeah, I’ve done that a couple of times throughout my career.”

    With Reiff and Brown projected as the starting tackles, and both being able to play on both sides of the line, the initial alignment is still up for guesses. Reiff didn’t tip anything on Tuesday either.

    “I’m just an offensive lineman,” he replied when asked which spot he’s more comfortable playing, left tackle or right tackle. “Whatever the coaches want me to do, I’ll do it.”

    We’ll get our first look at the Patriots’ new offensive line combination(s) next week, when the team begins OTA practices. The first practice is on Monday May 22, with the first practice that is open to the media coming on Thursday May 25.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.