FOXBORO - It's becoming clear that Nick Kaczur, now in his third year, will likely start an opener for the first time in his three-year career.
Nick Kaczur and Ryan O'Callaghan don't play quarterback, so there will be no pronouncement from the mountaintop on just who will be the starter at right tackle.
But if you watch the way playing time has been split up over the last two preseason games, it's becoming clear that Kaczur, now in his third year, will likely start an opener for the first time in his three-year career.
Against Tennessee and Carolina, Kaczur took virtually all the first-team snaps at the position. And though he was a college left tackle, and played on that side in Matt Light's place as a rookie, he's fine with flipping to the right.
"It's wherever they want," said Kaczur. "They want me at right tackle, they want me at left tackle, whatever they want. Starting's good. You'll always be happy with that."
Last year, a shoulder injury sidelined Kaczur until the Oct. 1 game against the Bengals. He then sat until Nov. 5, when he made his first start of the year, this time at right tackle. From there, he started nine consecutive games and three playoff games at the spot.
But the man Kaczur replaced in the starting lineup, O'Callaghan, showed enough promise early last year to warrant a shot at the job. Accordingly, reps were divided early in camp and the two split time in the preseason opener. From that competition, Kaczur says he's benefited, while emphasizing the relationship between the two never suffered for it.
"We both get along and we both help each other out," said Kaczur. "We'll let the coaches make their decision."
Since it seems they have, Kaczur will likely now get the chance to develop chemistry of the right side with guard Stephen Neal.
That rapport already has a foundation in the work the two did together last year. And with zone-blocking taking hold in the running game, it'll be even more vital this year.
"It definitely helps," said Kaczur. "I'm sure it helps (Neal) too, having one guy beside him instead of having this guy or that guy. Everybody has a little style in the way they play, everyone's a little different. So it's getting to know what the guy beside you does in certain situations."