FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — He stopped in midsentence and swatted away the small black fly that had landed on his nose.
“Did you see that?” Matt Light asked the media members huddled closely around him. “Did you see that fly attack me?”
Oh, it’s sure nice to have Matt Light back.
New England Patriots fans are probably grateful that Light, who has played his entire 10-year career with the Patriots, signed a two-year contract earlier in the week to stay in New England.
He’s a three-time Pro Bowl selection who protects Tom Brady’s blind side.
But that’s not why the media is happy. Mr. Light, you see, is an interviewer’s dream.
What other NFL player do you know who once compared himself to Robin Hood, as Light did back in 2004 while boasting of his bow-hunting skills? “Oh, like Robin of the hood, Errol Flynn. Those are a few guys who come to mind,” said Light, when asked how accurate he was.
Do you know of another 6-foot-4, 305-pound NFL offensive lineman who dressed in a white leotard and danced across your television screen in a SoBe Lifewater commercial? “My offseason training,” he commented.
Who else could so perfectly sum up the on-field personality of left guard Logan Mankins, who plays a mean brand of football? “He’s not not looking for a fight, I can tell you that,” said Light last year.
But as he addressed the media for the first time on Wednesday night before the team’s nighttime practice at Gillette Stadium, Light was very serious, very thoughtful.
When the 2010 season ended with the numbing 28-21 playoff loss to the New York Jets, Light walked out of the Patriots locker room as an unrestricted free agent.
He didn’t know if the Patriots wanted him back. He could have left with no compensation.
Instead, Light chose to stay.
“There’s always doubt, unfortunately, because it’s a business,” he said, when asked about his return. “I think throughout the whole process we were hopeful this would be the outcome.”
His return is welcome news for the Patriots.
Light’s eventual replacement at left tackle — first-round pick Nate Solder of Colorado — is still unsigned. Not good.
With a condensed training camp, it’s going to be hard enough to pick up all the nuances of the Patriots’ offense even if you’re here for the entire camp.
So Light, with his vast experience, is a huge help.
“Matt’s been a good player for us, no question about it,” said Nick Caserio, the Patriots’ director of player personnel. “His track record for us speaks for itself. The reality is, he’s got to come in here and he’s got a job to do and our expectations are the same for him as they are for any other player.
“It’s good to have Matt here. We’ve got a lot of work to do and he’s got a lot of work to do. So we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing. But it is good to have him back.”
And Light, 33, is glad to be here.
“Hey, I’m excited,” he said. “I’m excited for all these guys who are out here for all the work that both sides did to get this deal done. It’s a heck of a time.
“We’ve been sitting around waiting for this moment. For me, personally, my family and I are really excited to be back in New England.”
Even with Solder in the background.
“Hey you know competition is the name of game,” said Light. “There’s always going to be guys pushing everybody at every level — I think it’s a good thing. I think it drives all of us.
“That’s why we’re out here. We’re out here to compete, compete against each other, compete against the opponents. Drafting a guy that can come and fill in for these old bones, it was inevitable, so hopefully we’ll have some fun teaching him a thing or two.”
Light said he didn’t have any contact with the Patriots after the lockout began — “Things went mute.” — but that they started talking soon after the collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon by both owners and players.
He said the lockout “was painful” for a lot of the Patriots, simply because this is a close-knit team that likes to be around each other. He loves the pickups of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and said he will miss defensive end Ty Warren, who was released.
And, yes, he’s looking forward to today’s practice — his first of the preseason.
“When you first put the pads on, whether you been doing it for two months or 20 years, you definitely go through a little bit of a transition,” said Light. “But you know what? It will happen and it will be like old days. Once you hit someone in the mouth once, it’s like you’ve done it 100 times.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: