|With Logan Mankins gone, what now for Patriots offensive line?||08.26.14 at 10:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In the space of 10 months, the Patriots have lost their longtime offensive line coach to retirement and their heart-and-soul offensive line captain to NFL economics.
The question now is, what will the Patriots do without Dante Scarnecchia and Logan Mankins? Part of that question has already been answered as new offensive line coach Dave Duglielmo has had a full spring and summer with the players he hopes will keep Tom Brady clean, healthy and upright all season.
But the second part of that equation is a big TBD.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of good experience, like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer and there’s a whole list of guys who know what they’re doing. We can definitely get by,” Solder said.
Obviously, the Patriots are looking for much more than just getting by when it comes to keeping No. 12 upright. They’re not looking for the next Pro Bowler per se, but rather someone who will give them consistent play from the left guard position that they’ve gotten for the past nine seasons from Mankins.
And while Connolly and Wendell could be options at left guard, there are other names to consider who could step in immediately. Jordan Devey, Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon. All three have played the interior line at some point in their time in New England, with Devey and Kline getting the most reps during games while Cannon has played primarily tackle, filling in at right tackle last season when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a season-ending broken leg.
Then, late in the season, against the Ravens in Baltimore, Belichick provided some possible foreshadowing of life without Mankins at left guard. With Solder out with a concussion, the team shifted Mankins to left tackle. It was the 24-year-old Kline who filled in for Mankins at left guard, making his first career NFL start.
Whoever gets the call at left guard, Solder is completely confident that he can help lead the new group into the 2014 season.
“A ton of confidence,” Solder said. “Those guys work so hard and they’re awesome people. I have a ton of confidence. That’s why they’re here. The way I kind of view leadership is to do my job the best that I can. If that influences people, I hope it does, but that’s kind of the role I see myself in.”
|Devin McCourty on Logan Mankins: ‘Don’t know if [you] get that type of teammate ever again’||at 6:23 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For those Patriots who played with Logan Mankins, Tuesday was harder than any offseason or training camp practice they’ve had this season.
After their first practice without the six-time Pro Bowl left guard, they came off the field and had to face the reality that the business side of the NFL and the Patriots had hit home. Mankins’ locker was in tact along with some team equipment but his teammates were left to answer questions about his sudden departure to Tampa Bay.
“He’s the type of guy you don’t know if get that type of teammate ever again,” safety Devin McCourty said. “He’s a tough guy. The different injuries he’s played through, being out there every snap, every chance he could get. When I got here, he wasn’t at here at first because he was home and he missed first couple of games. He came back and you could see the difference up front in how everybody played. He went to the Pro Bowl in a half-year. I think that just spoke volumes about a guy who you just see his leadership stand out as soon as he steps on the field.
“Since I’ve been here, he’s a guy you look up to, and I’m a defensive back and that’s watching the offensive line. Tampa is going to get one helluva player, and guy.”
McCourty the player then spoke like McCourty a team captain.
“There are some things you can’t control. You just accept,” he added. “It’s tough, it’s tough. You just tell yourself, and it starts the older guys on the team, you have to go out there and play. You can’t just sit there and sulk or be disappointed in your mind. You just have to go out there and play and make sure the younger and go about it and play and follow your lead. That’s the way I looked at today.
“This time of year is difficult. When we have 90 guys, whether it’s a guy like Travis Hawkins, in my room every day asking me a bunch of questions, working his tail off. Coach says it every year, this is a tough time for everybody. Coaches don’t like making these decisions. This one felt a little bit more because of the type of player Logan was and how long he’s been here.”
Mankins is gone to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round pick. Matthew Slater is another Patriots player who, like Mankins, has served as a captain before. He admitted that once the team was informed by Bill Belichick of the trade before practice Tuesday, it was tough going about business.
“It is difficult,” Slater said. “You know a guy for a number of years, you get to know his family, his kids, and that makes it tough. There is always a human element involved. We signed up to do a job here, and we understand what that job entails, and we understand what comes along with that, but at the same time, you can’t separate yourself from the human element, and the emotions and feelings that come along with it.
|First-half thoughts: Ryan Mallett beat up, Chris Jones (ankle) leaves injured||08.07.14 at 9:00 pm ET|
LANDOVER, Md. — Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from the first half at FedEx Field, as the Redskins hold a 13-0 lead.
It was not a good start for Nate Solder and the offensive line, especially Solder. He committed a hold that wiped out a first down pass from Ryan Mallett. Then he got beat once for a sack and allowed another pass rush that got a big hit on Mallett.
Mallett was again up and down. He completed sharp passes to Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell. But he showed nervous feet in the pocket and rushed two throws for incompletions on third down. Mallett showed off his arm with eight seconds left when he let loose on a deep ball from his own 25. But it fell incomplete for Thompkins in double coverage. He finished the first half 5-of-12 for 55 yards.
Vince Wilfork played just the first series alongside Tommy Kelly and Chris Jones in a 3-4 look. He moved well but obviously the Patriots will monitor him closely as he gets back to full game conditioning. After Wilfork left, Joe Vellano, the man who filled in after Wilfork’s Achilles injury last year, got plenty of time over the ball. Will Smith, Zach Moore and Marcus Forston also saw significant time in the first half.
But the Patriots, who are already without the services of Sealver Siliga (left hand), lost Chris Jones with just over a minute left in the first half to an ankle injury. He had to be helped off the field and then walked very slowly to the Patriots locker room.
Rookie Roy Finch got a mulligan on a kickoff return when he ran up the middle and then sprinted to daylight on right sideline, only to lose the ball as he sped up and tried to juke his way past a defender. Washington recovered but Finch was saved by an Redskins offsides. Finch was back again and returned again and this time held on.
Both teams missed field goals in the first half, including Stephen Gostkowski, who had plenty of leg but dinged his 54-yarder halfway up the right upright midway through the second quarter.
|Centers of attention: Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork all in spotlight||08.04.14 at 7:00 am ET|
One of the more interesting positions over the first week-plus of Patriots training camp has been center, where Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork have all gotten plenty of work.
Wendell enters the 2014 season as the incumbent, having served as the No. 1 center for the better part of the last two years. A favorite of both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, he’s played almost more snaps than anyone else in the league since the start of the 2012 season.
It’s been a long journey for the 28-year-old Wendell, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008, got his first series of starts along the interior in 2010 and moved into the starting center position in 2012.
“When Ryan first got here, he couldn’t even make our practice squad,” Belichick recalled earlier this summer when asked about the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Wendell. “He was a camp player [and] wasn’t on our practice squad at the beginning of the season. We brought him back to the practice squad during his first year.
“I’d say it’s been about as big of a progression as really any player could have, any player I’ve had or any player could have — maybe Steve Neal. But it’s the same kind of thing — guys [who] weren’t even on the practice squad that eventually became starting players in the NFL. That’s a pretty big jump. It took a lot of time, a lot of hard work and he’s certainly done his part and worked hard. He’s a very smart football player, and doesn’t have many missed assignments.”
At the same time, he figured to be pushed by the 23-year-old Stork, a rookie with a peerless college resume — he won the Rimington Award last year as the best center in college football in 2013, and was a captain for the national champions from Florida State.
“Bryan was a pretty durable player,” Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio said of the 6-foot-4, 313-pound Stork, who started 41 games as a collegian with the Seminoles. “He played a lot of football. He played against good people.
“Smart guy, tough, good playing strength, had a good playing style, good demeanor. He did a lot of good things, and there was a lot to like about him.”
However, one player who has really emerged has been the 31-year-old Connolly, a part-time center who has really made his bones the last few years as the starting right guard. When Stork went down with an undisclosed injury — he’s missed three of the eight practices this summer as a result — the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Connolly stepped in as the backup, while Marcus Cannon took many of the reps at right guard. The move appeared to be a chance to take some of the reps from Wendell and give the starter a bit of a rest. But to this point, Connolly has performed well, and has added some more spice to the mix.
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|Nate Solder, Matthew Slater hit the links in support of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation||06.30.14 at 1:25 pm ET|
PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Being an NFL football player takes a tremendous toll on one’s body. The long, scorching hot days of training camp leading to the daily grind of a regular season is incredibly tough to handle, both physically and mentally.
The time between the end of mini camp and the start of training camp gives players one last month to catch their breath and rejuvenate their bodies one last time before the start of the new season, which for the Patriots begins with the first day of training camp on July 24.
Left tackle Nate Solder and special teams specialist Matthew Slater spent one of their last free Monday’s relaxing, joining a number of former professional athletes and local celebrities for a round of golf at the Pinehills Golf Club supporting the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.
“Just continuing to train and get my body in shape,” Slater said of what the next month will be like for him. “You try and do the best you can for your body to prepare for an NFL season and that is a strenuous process, but one you enjoy at the same time. Just doing the best we can as individuals and as a team to get ourselves ready for what lies ahead.
“It’s definitely an exciting time of the year. You work all year to get to this point being the start of a new season. We put a lot of work in and there is still a lot of work to be put in. We’re just excited about the 2014 season and what is in store for us.”
Monday’s event will raise funds and awareness in support of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families make critical mortgage, rent and utility payments during financially-challenging times and to help fund pediatric brain cancer research. Last year’s tournament raised a record $278,000.
“It’s great support and seeing what we’re about – that we are in the community, we’re apart of the community,” Andruzzi said of the support he gets from current Patriots players. “They are here playing for the Patriots, but they are also living in the community so we’re helping the people around them, people in this area and all throughout New England. For them to pay it forward and join forces with us is a great tribute to us.”
|Report: Patriots exercise fifth-year option on left tackle Nate Solder||04.23.14 at 7:24 pm ET|
The Patriots exercised the fifth-year option on left tackle Nate Solder on Wednesday, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.
The option is worth the average value of the third through the 25th-highest cap numbers for offensive linemen in 2014. According to our friend Miguel Benzan of Patscap.com, that would put Solder’s option at about $7.3 million for the 2015 season. Considering the market for free agent left tackles this offseason (five free agent tackles received guaranteed deals in excess of $10 million) and Solder’s level of play since he arrived in the league three years ago, it seems like a sound financial move for New England.
Teams have until May 3 to exercise the fifth-year option on the first-round picks of the 2011 draft class, and Solder is one of several members of the class to have their option already picked up — it’s a group that includes Houston’s J.J. Watt, Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, New York’s Muhammad Wilkerson and San Diego’s Corey Liuget.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Takeaways from our Thursday morning talk with Logan Mankins||04.17.14 at 1:49 pm ET|
1. He sounds optimistic about the upcoming transition period for the New England offensive line.
For the first time since shortly after the earth cooled, Dante Scarnecchia will not be coaching the Patriots offensive line. It’ll be an interesting stretch for Mankins, who will be losing the only position coach he’s known at the professional level. However, Mankins said new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo “seems like a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.”
“It’s going to be a big change,” Mankins said when asked about moving on from Scarnecchia. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued. But he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he was enjoying life right now and he’s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’s the only o-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now, so, it’ll be a bit of a change.”
What does Mankins want out of a new coach?
“Personally, I just want a coach that’s fair, he’s going to treat everyone the same — there’s no one on a pedestal,” he said. “I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach, but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs. He demanded a lot of us, but I think that’s what made a lot of us good players. That’s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”
2. He’s been working a lot with fellow guard Dan Connolly this offseason.
According to Mankins, for the first time in several years, both Mankins and Connolly aren’t dealing with any sort of offseason rehab for surgery. As a result, the two have been working together in the area to ‘get after it’ for a few hours every morning. He said
“It’s been a good partnership right now,” Mankins said. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to (train) a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.
“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’ve been pushing each other and it’s been working out well.”
Right now, Mankins said it’s just “the big boys throwing around weights.” That will transition to the start of the offseason program on Monday, where coaches can get involved. At that point, it’s expected that more cardio will be worked into the mix. Mankins said center Ryan Wendell has also been present since re-signing about three weeks ago, while youngsters Jordan Devey and Chris Barker have also been present.
(For what it’s worth, Mankins also sounded an optimistic note on the state of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who went down in October with a season ending leg injury. “He looks good right now, too. I don’t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’s working hard,” Mankins said of Vollmer. “There’s good promise there.”)
3. There’s something to be said for continuity.
If everyone returns healthy, the Patriots will have a chance to utilize the same five starting offensive linemen they had at the beginning of the 2013 season — Vollmer (right tackle), Connolly (right guard), Wendell (center), Mankins, (left guard) and Nate Solder (left tackle).
“It’s always good,” said Mankins when asked about continuity. “We know what were doing, (but) it always comes down to making the right blocks and doing a good job. We like the group we have. We like the guys in that room. They’re all hard working guys and they try very hard and they work hard. I think we could have a good season together.
“I look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,” he added. “It’s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”
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