FOXBOROUGH — Less than 24 hours after being added to the team, the newest member of the Patriots was busy with his playbook and getting ready for his first practice. As soon as Rashaan Melvin hit the field Thursday, the idea of the cornerback playing in Sunday’s game at Indianapolis became a greater possibility.
Tarell Brown, who started at right cornerback the first two games and came on in a reserve role last week at Dallas, missed practice with a foot injury. If Brown can’t play against the Colts, the Patriots can certainly go with Logan Ryan, who has started the past two games, and had an interception in the win over the Cowboys. But Melvin might be in the mix for playing time, days after he was released by the Ravens, then claimed by the Patriots.
“Right now I know I’ve got a lot to learn, I’ve got a lot to catch up on, so I’m kind of focused on that right now,” said Melvin, who will wear No. 24. “I’m excited to be a Patriot.
“I’m trying to lock in on [the playbook], pick up as much as I can, and get ready to go out there and compete for a job.”
Melvin didn’t play much with the Ravens, just five games total over the past two seasons. One of those was the playoff game Jan. 10 at Gillette Stadium. He started at right cornerback and was picked on repeatedly by Tom Brady, who threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 35-31 win.
Melvin wasn’t in much of a mood Thursday to reminisce about that game, or why things didn’t work out for him in Baltimore.
But he sounded like someone who expects to make an impact on his new team.
“I’m not really too concerned about that,” he said. “I’m glad to be a Patriot, glad to be here around these group of guys, ready to learn from those guys and help those guys out.
“I think I’m a very talented guy. I play with a lot of confidence. I trust my abilities, on and off the field, play with a strong motor. I’m looking forward to moving on and making this place a home for my career.”
Right to left?
With Nate Solder now officially lost for the season because of a torn biceps, the Patriots will start someone else at left tackle in a game (regular season or playoff) for the first time since Dec. 22, 2013.
In that home game against the Ravens, Solder was out with a concussion, so Logan Mankins slid over from his regular spot at left guard and got the start at tackle.
Mankins was traded away before the 2014 season. Prior to Mankins, the last player to start at left tackle for the Patriots besides Solder was Matt Light, and he retired after the 2011 season.
Only one other player on the Patriots’ current roster has ever started a game for the team at left tackle. Sebastian Vollmer, who usually starts at right tackle, filled in for Light for five games during the 2009 season, when Vollmer was a rookie.
With his experience at the position — Vollmer also started at left tackle at the University of Houston — chances are good that he’ll switch sides and get the start at left tackle for Sunday night’s game at Indianapolis, right?
“Those calls aren’t made by us,” said Vollmer. “That’s Bill [Belichick], and whatever he wants us to do, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll see what happens. I played it in college.”
Vollmer wasn’t interested in guessing where he’ll line up against the Colts, but he did have something to say about Solder, who has the next locker over and has been a teammate of Vollmer’s since 2011.
“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt, on your team or the other team,” Vollmer said. “Obviously we’re close friends. Yeah, you feel bad.”
Another option at left tackle would be Marcus Cannon, who took over after Solder’s injury. Cannon has experience playing guard or tackle, on both the left and right sides.
Rookie long snapper Joe Cardona was sporting a Notre Dame T-shirt in the locker room, drawing some long looks and giggles from teammates, including linebacker Jonathan Freeny and safety Jordan Richards. Cardona, a Navy graduate, had to wear the shirt for one day after losing a bet with Notre Dame alum Darius Fleming, now a linebacker on the Patriots’ practice squad. The Fighting Irish beat the Midshipmen last Saturday, 41-24. “We won’t lose any more bets this year,” said Cardona, although the person he snaps for, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, may be interested in a friendly wager. Navy and Memphis play Nov. 7.
Lewis is on report
In addition to Brown missing practice, three players were limited, including running back Dion Lewis, who was added to the injury report with an abdomen problem. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ribs) and defensive end Trey Flowers (knee/shoulder) also were limited . . . The Bruins will play the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 1, 2016, in the NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium. That had something to do with the Bruins bear (as seen in those popular commercials) and frequent national anthem singer Rene Rancourt hanging out at the stadium Thursday . . . One item that was overlooked after the Patriots’ win at Dallas: With 149 points, the Patriots have set a team record for most points through the first four games of a season, eclipsing the 148 from 2007.