May 242012

The Patriots scooped former Pro Bowler Brian Waters in the preseason last season and he played better than maybe even they could have ever imagined, making the Pro Bowl on a New England line that was one of the best in the league and helped the Patriots make the Super Bowl. However, at 35 years of age, there was some doubt about whether or not he’d return for his 13th NFL season.

According to the Boston Herald, not only will Waters be returning, but he has been planning “all along” to return. The Herald mentioned that Waters always misses voluntary team practices to spend the spring with his family and this year has been no different. The Patriots have been tight lipped on his status, but they love doing that so that doesn’t really mean anything. This would explain why the Patriots didn’t use a single draft pick on an offensive lineman. Waters’ return will be incredibly valuable to an offensive line that already lost one veteran, Matt Light, this offseason.

Even with Light retiring, the Patriots should still have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer are both talented young bookend tackles that the Patriots have spent high picks on in recent years. Logan Mankins is perennially one of the best guards in the league and should be fine after offseason surgery on a partially torn ACL. And then, of course, Waters.

Dan Koppen or Dan Connolly will compete for the center job and whoever wins will probably be the weak link on this line and that’s not really a knock on either. 2011 5th round pick Marcus Cannon is healthy after missing most of last season with a tumor and will provide valuable depth inside and outside. Once a projected 2nd round pick, Cannon could end up being a steal when all is said and done. Now healthy, he could be Waters’ successor at guard.

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