Solder’s knee got rolled on during a fight between defensive tackle Damon Harrison and rookie guard Will Hernandez. It could have been disastrous considering the Giants made him the NFL’s highest paid offensive lineman when they signed him in free agency.
Luckily, Solder’s knee was just fine. Disaster averted.
Solder, considered the best left tackle in free agency, signed a four-year, $62 million-dollar contract. He brings championship pedigree after seven seasons with the New England Patriots. The Patriots made seven appearances in the AFC Championship Game and four Super Bowls during that time span.
Solder was on the Patriots team defeated by the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. He was brought in to lead an offensive line that was one of the NFL’s worst in 2017. After the scuffle between Harrison and Hernandez, Solder’s leadership skills were on full display.
“We just have to focus on getting better, we have to play better football, we have to be a strong unit on the offensive line and we have to do what we can control,” Solder said. “Those things are battles, they happen, emotions rise and you work through it and move on.”
Solder is also providing mentorship to Hernandez, as well as the embattled Erick Flowers. With Solder’s signing, Flowers moved from the left tackle position to the right side. Solder came out in support of Flowers.
“I have been impressed with his character and his humility—work ethic, everything,” Solder said.
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Flowers, who has been notoriously tightlipped during his tenure with the Giants, had good things to say as well.
“It has been cool,” Flowers said. “We’ve been going every day and watching film, talking about what we see and just trying to go out there and perform.”
On the field, Solder will help protect Eli Manning’s blindside. Manning was sacked 31 times in 2017, the second highest total of his career. He will also help generate yards on the ground by opening holes for rookie running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt with only six rushing touchdowns last season.
Solder has never missed the playoffs in his NFL career. The Giants have one playoff appearance (a loss) since winning Super Bowl XLVI. Solder’s play on the field and his leadership ability is symbolic of the culture change implemented by head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman.
“He’s a true professional,” Shurmur said. “We talk often about leadership and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be anything extraordinary and you certainly don’t have to be the loudest guy in the room.
“Sometimes the guy that doesn’t say as much leads better than the guy that talks a lot, and Nate is a very steady force. We all know what he’s done as a player. As you get to know him, you get to appreciate what a tremendous person he is and I think that will help us as we move forward.”