Returning to Giants after opting out, Nate Solder not worried about playing time: 'Who cares who starts?'

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New York Giants tackle Nate Solder (76) during training camp
New York Giants tackle Nate Solder (76) during training camp

It was a very tough decision for Nate Solder to opt out of the 2020 season. And he did so knowing that his spot on the roster this year wasn’t set in stone.

The Giants ultimately wanted to work something out with the veteran tackle at a pay cut, which he accepted. Now back in East Rutherford working with his teammates, Solder is just grateful for the opportunity to be wearing the blue and white practice jersey again this time of year.

“There’s so many factors involved in that, but I’m just thankful they gave me the opportunity to come back,” Solder told reporters via Zoom regarding his decision to opt out. “There were no guarantees with that. And the other thing was just excitement. I found out, I was excited to come back. I was ready to come back. So those were kinda the determining factors.

“Sitting down with my wife, making the decision and all that stuff was a group decision between me and her.”

Even though it was just one season, Solder finds himself thrown into a new group of coaches and linemen. And more importantly, his starting left tackle role from 2019 has since been given to the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Andrew Thomas.

“Yeah, it is pretty different. It’s interesting how many guys are new and I love the feel of the guys. I love the way they’re working. I love the way we’re covering the details in the meetings and covering so many things.”

But Solder isn’t at all worried about starting this season.

“One of the great things about coming back is just the opportunity to work with a group of guys,” he explained. “So who cares who starts? I just want to be a part of an excellent group that’s getting better every day and plays at a really high level. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some really great O-lines, and you know what, whoever cares who’s starting and who’s not starting because we’re all part of the team. We’re all necessary, we’re all needed.”

Though he may not care when talking to the media, Solder will certainly be fighting in training camp to earn that right tackle role in 2021. His biggest competition is Matt Peart, the third-round pick out of UConn that showed some glimpses of solid play last year. But he was always viewed as a developmental project instead of a starter within two years.

So Solder does have a good chance to start Week 1 against the Broncos – as long as he’s in football shape.

“I haven’t played much football until the last couple weeks, so that’s pretty different,” he said. “I did a few things. I was in my backyard doing pass sets and I got a weight set down in my basement and stuff like that.

“I feel good where I’m at right now.”

Training camp will turn up the intensity for Solder and the rest of the Giants. But until then, he’s just happy to be having these conversations with media, being in the locker room, and set to play in yet another NFL season.

“That’s one of the best parts about being in the NFL – the locker room, the guys, the camaraderie, working towards a collective goal. I really did miss that.

“My mindset was if I can be somewhere where I’m fulfilling my purpose where I can be around guys that have the same set of values and goals as myself that that’s a real honor. And it’s a privilege to be in the NFL, so I missed that. I missed the excitement and fun to be a part of it. I’m fortunate to be in this position.”