Before they left for the offseason, Pat Shurmur wanted to impress upon all of the rookies the importance of maintaining a good structure of preparation while they are away from the team. It is, he said, the first time they’ll really be on their own.
He might have had to deliver that message to a certain veteran left tackle, too.
January begins on Tuesday and Nate Solder isn’t quite sure what he should be doing. After seven seasons with the Patriots, none of which ended short of a conference title game appearance, Solder is left wondering how he should be spending the next few weeks. It’ll be the first time in almost a decade that he won’t have football in the first month of the year.
“I don’t know,” he said of how he plans to spend that time most productively. “I’m working that out right now. I was just talking with the strength and conditioning staff about recovery and getting back into training and all the things I haven’t dealt with before. I mean, last year it was mid-February before I was talking about those things.”
In typical Solder fashion, he saw the positive in what is really a very negative situation.
“It’s a little different, but maybe it’s another opportunity to get that much better and have a better season next year,” he said. “More time to recover. More time to build and strengthen. Everything. Maximize that.”
As for the rookies, they too are curious about what the coming months will bring.
“It’s going to be very different,” Saquon Barkley said. “You’ve got time to take off and I really haven’t gotten that opportunity since high school football, to be honest, since my senior year. And even then I went to play basketball. I went to track. I’m going to balance this and try to do it the right way. I don’t want to take too much time off and I want to make sure I take enough time, too. That’s what you have to do in this league. I look forward to it, trying to balance it the best I can and get myself best prepared when the time comes.”
There are some benefits to missing the playoffs. Solder, for instance, will get to sit back and watch the playoffs. Well, at least some of the games.
“I’m really looking forward to spending time with my two kids and my wife,” he said. “We like football, we’ll watch it, but there are more important things at this time of year.”
And for the first time in a long time, he’ll get to experience them