August 26, 2005
Ashworth's Play Proves Patriots Need Light
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
GREEN BAY, WI -- One thing was made clear on Friday night.
The Patriots need Matt Light.
Head coach Bill Belichick told reporters that the absence of the Pats left tackle, along with right tackle Brandon Gorin, gave the coaching staff a chance to take a look at some other players and how they would fare when they filled in at other positions. In Light’s absence Tom Ashworth got the start at the left tackle, while Nick Kaczur got the start at right tackle.
However protecting quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side has to be Belichick’s top priority, and when he sits down after Friday night’s game he’ll likely be disappointed with what he sees on film.
You know it’s a problem when rookie left guard Logan Mankins is the one that looks like the veteran on the field, because Ashworth definitely struggled during the team’s 27-3 win against the Packers.
The problems started early in the game when Ashworth was beat on two consecutive plays to stop New England’s second offensive possession. He was beaten the first time (Mankins held his block) on a play which running back Corey Dillon was cut down by the Packers defense in the backfield. That play was then followed by a sack he allowed to Brady (Mankins again handled his defender). The sack forced New England to have to settle for a 44-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri.
New England also caught a break during their second touchdown drive, when just one play before David Given’s touchdown reception Ashworth was beat on the play and forced a hurried throw by Brady which was nearly intercepted.
Mankins meanwhile showed everyone why he was a first round selection. He’s got terrific footwork and balance, and it showed during Friday’s game. On one play where he did get beat, he kept his feet and got back in, staying with his man and pushing him back out of the play. Brady then stepped up and connected on a pass to Kevin Faulk.
The good news for Patriots fans is that Light’s absence won’t keep him out of regular season action. According to Light’s father, the veteran won’t be out of the line up by the time the Patriots open against the Raiders at home at Gillette Stadium on September 8th.
Light’s Dad told the Dayton Daily News earlier this week that the veteran should be ready to go soon. "The only thing I can tell you is that it's really not serious," Bill Light, Matt's father, told the newspaper. "He'll probably miss a preseason game or something, but other than that, it's fine. The reason they don't release (injury information) is because that becomes an instant target."
If team’s look at Friday night’s game film they’ll definitely be making that left side an area to attack. That’s bad news as it really highlights just how important Light is to New England’s offense. Hopefully his dad is right, as the Patriots appear to need him more than many would have thought.
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