According to various reports, the Patriots could shake up their offensive line and inject some youth into the lineup in tonight's game against the Chiefs.
That could include a pair of rookie draft picks making their first NFL start as fourth-round center Bryan Stork and fellow fourth-round pick Cameron Fleming might be in line for increased roles on a struggling offensive line.
Fleming was a right tackle throughout his time in college at Stanford. He has been used primarily as a blocking tight end through the first three weeks of his career but may get bumped inside to the right guard spot in a retooling of a line that's struggled mightily in its first three games under first-year Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
As was the case in college, Fleming saw mostly right tackle reps this summer and preseason. He took a few practice snaps at right guard, though, and his former college coach actually predicted this spring that his former pupil could bump inside if needed.
Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren knew it was unlikely that Fleming would come into New England and unseat Sebastian Vollmer from the right tackle spot, so he was well aware that his former star pupil would need to show some flexibility to make the 46-man game day roster and have a chance to see the field as a rookie. At 6-6, 325 pounds Fleming will be a big, athletic body on the inside.
"With teams only dressing seven or eight linemen on game day in the NFL you have to be able to play another position to be active. So he'll obviously have to make some transitions. Maybe it'll be right guard. Maybe he can play right guard and right tackle," Bloomgren said in May. "Whatever the Patriots see him doing and how they see him fitting in I'm sure they have a great plan for it. Does he have the ability to? Certainly. Has he done it? Nope. But he has played an awful lot of tackle and played jumbo tight end where he'd go over to the left side and play the tight end position. So he's been in a left-handed stance some. So again, position flexibility? Not a guy that's going to play all five positions, but certainly if you need to throw him at guard in a pinch, No. 1 he'll be smart enough to know both assignments for both positions and can probably get the job done for you."
According to reports, the Patriots may get a chance to see if Fleming can indeed get the job done at right guard tonight on Monday Night Football at a raucous Arrowhead Stadium.
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