Heading into the start of training camp, one of the biggest question marks facing the Patriots was at left tackle. Who was going to replace Nate Solder? Who was going to protect Tom Brady’s blind side?

That all-important question was answered pretty quickly. Mighty Trent Brown is the man. He’s already earned the job. The titanic 6-foot-8, 380-pound lineman is going to be entrusted with keeping a wealth of elite pass rushers (Calais Campbell, Everson Griffen, Ezekiel Ansah, Cameron Wake, etc.) on the schedule away from the Patriots’ 41-year-old quarterback.

But the player who was Brown’s primary competition for the job, rookie Isaiah Wynn, is now done for the season with a torn Achilles.

That’s not the best news for the Patriots, but it’s not awful, either. Not yet anyway. Brown is still upright, still healthy and looking like an all-world tackle.

On the opposite side, where the Patriots will also have to fend off plenty of pass-rushing talent this year, the team does have a bit of depth, although no one has seen right tackle Marcus Cannon in a few weeks.

That causes more concern, but his injury ā€“ reportedly a muscle strain ā€“ isn’t expected to make him miss the start of the season. La’Adrian Waddle, who did yeoman’s work last season coming on for the injured Cannon, will fill in if need be as the swing tackle, the role that was seemingly being carved out for Wynn.

So for the time being, the bases are covered. Dante Scarnecchia’s unit has looked pretty sound in two preseason games. The problem is that it just has a house-of-cards feel to it, given that Brown, Cannon and Waddle have had injury issues.

The Patriots also have Ulrick John, Jason King and Matt Tobin on the depth chart. They’re tackles, but not quite in the same league, especially when you’re talking left tackle. So if one of those players follows Wynn, or if one of them misses significant time, particularly if that player is Brown, there’s trouble.

“All it takes is one injury, then all of a sudden, it’s like dynamite going off. You’re screwed,” said ESPN analyst and former Patriots lineman Damien Woody. “If Brown gets hurt, you’re holding on by the seat of your pants once again.”

That’s the big picture reality, but the Patriots aren’t in that place. They’re covered for now.

Brown saw action in five games his rookie year. The following year, he started all 16 games. Last year was the first time injuries hampered him as a pro, as he played in 10 games before being put on injured reserve because of a shoulder problem.

Since arriving in New England following a draft-day trade with San Francisco, he’s lost weight and been one of the stars of camp. He could be a fixture at left tackle for many years to come if he stays healthy.

Matt Light, a Patriots Hall of Fame left tackle, didn’t sound too worried about more injury dominoes falling after Wynn.

Light likes how the Patriots recovered after Solder’s loss and put the pieces back together.

“With Trent Brown, he’s got an awesome opportunity to do what he can do. For a guy his size, as nimble as he is, as much talent as he possesses, he can have that position for a long time,” Light said. “Even with the latest news with Wynn going down, they’ll be all right. They’ll find a way. You always have to deal with injuries. They’ve got Dante (Scarnecchia). They’ve got a core group of guys. I think they’ll be fine. They’ll find a way to make it work. These guys game plan as well as anybody. It’s what they do.”

Former Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer agreed.

“They’ll always be OK,” he said. “I feel bad for Isaiah, he would have been in the mix. It’s a long road, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But with the excellent coaching they have, long story short, they’ll be fine. They usually are.”


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