While the Patriots improved to 8-0 Sunday, getting there required some interesting lineups at the line of scrimmage.
Left tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who shifted to that spot to fill a void on an offensive line plagued by injuries, was injured himself. He left in the first half with a head injury and did not return. Cameron Fleming started at right tackle, but shifted to left tackle when Vollmer went down. Taking Fleming's spot at right tackle was second-year interior offensive lineman Bryan Stork, who also played guard.
The ability to adjust to new roles impressed the guy they were protecting, quarterback Tom Brady.
"Those guys, they play so hard," said Brady. "We went into the game with six offensive linemen, so you just hope for the best, and then obviously with (Vollmer) going down, it puts a lot of strain on those guys. A lot of guys scrambled to figure out exactly what we were going to do. They played hard, so I'm proud of them. For Bryan to go in and play right tackle, it's unbelievable. Then (Fleming) to go to left tackle ... I don't know about when we thought of doing that, but that's what happens when you're a little bit under pressure."
Brady was asked about adjustments that were required with the different lineup in front of him.
"It's always a little bit challenging when you put multiple variables into play," said Brady. "Obviously without those guys practicing at all at those positions ... anything that we'd call would be new (to them). There's a lot of game-plan things that are nuances to the plays.
"That's why I thought we did a good job. We stayed really balanced and took advantage of some third downs in the second half, which is great. It allowed us to continue running the ball, and then that big touchdown drive to Brandon [Bolden]. It was just a great touchdown drive by all of those guys up front. It was a great way to finish the game."
Running back Dion Lewis left the game in the third quarter with an injured knee.
"It's such a physical game. It's tough to lose such a special player," Brady about Lewis. "I hope he's ok. We're all hoping for the best."
Brady was effusive in his praise for Bolden, who filled in for Lewis and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"Brandon made a great play. We work on that a lot," said Brady. "It was great to see him in there and make a big play for us. He's a great player. I love Brandon and everything he brings to our team. He's been here a while. He has great leadership."
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