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Takeaways from our Thursday morning talk with Logan Mankins 04.17.14 at 1:49 pm ET
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Logan Mankins will be without Dante Scarnecchia this season. (AP)

Logan Mankins will be without Dante Scarnecchia this season. (AP)

FOXBORO — In addition to his dismissal of Brandon Spikes, here are three things we gleaned from our Thursday morning chat with Logan Mankins.

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.”

“€œIt’€™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?

“€œPersonally, 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 ‘€œget after it’€ for a few hours every morning. He said

“€œIt’€™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.

“€œWe 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 “€œthe 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. “€œHe 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).

“œIt’€™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.

“€œI look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,”€ he added. “€œIt’€™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.”

Read More: Chris Barker, Dan Connolly, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo
Resetting list of Patriots and their own free agents 04.09.14 at 1:04 pm ET
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Will Svitek

Will Svitek

With Matthew Mulligan agreeing to a deal with the Bears on Tuesday, here’s an updated look at the Patriots 2014 free agent class. If you’re scoring at home, of its 12 free agents, New England has retained four and lost five, while three remain on the market.

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: Signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Free agent, but has expressed an interest in returning.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: Free agent.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Signed a four-year contract to return to New England.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: Singed a one-year deal with Chicago.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Signed a one-year deal with Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: Free agent.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Signed a six-year deal with Denver.
Center Ryan Wendell: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie
Resetting latest on Patriots and their own free agents 03.20.14 at 3:53 pm ET
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LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount

Just over one week into free agency, here’s a status update on each of New England’s free agents:

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Carter has left the door open for a possible return — he expanded on his feelings in a recent interview with ESPN — but he remains in limbo, at least at this point.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Signed a four-year deal to return to New England.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to WEEI.com some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Signed a one-year deal with Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates, but like Mulligan, league sources expressed a belief that the Patriots would welcome him back at a fair market rate.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Signed a six-year deal with Denver.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie
Resetting latest on Patriots and their own free agents 03.14.14 at 12:33 pm ET
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Almost 72 hours into free agency, here’s the latest on what’s up with the Patriots’ own free agent class.

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Carter has left the door open for a possible return ‘€” he expanded on his feelings in a recent interview with ESPN.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: The slot receiver, who reportedly left a three-year deal on the table in New England, is facing a fluid market for his services, as it’s clear his future could be tied to Steve Smith. (We explored that here.) He’s visiting with the Niners on Friday — it could be an enticing spot for the California native.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Reportedly took a free agent visit to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to WEEI.com some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Spikes is visiting with the Bills, a natural landing spot — he’s tight with former positional coach Pepper Johnson, and Johnson left New England for Buffalo earlier this offseason.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates, but like Mulligan, league sources expressed a belief that the Patriots would welcome him back at a fair market rate.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Talib signed a six-year, $57 million deal with $26 million guaranteed with the Broncos.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates, but the Patriots have kicked the tires on veteran Phil Costa, who ended up signing with the Colts. As is the case at other positions, both sides could be looking to read the market before making a move.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie
Resetting latest on Patriots and their own free agents 03.12.14 at 10:44 am ET
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After nearly 24 hours of free agency, here’s a look at the Patriots and the latest involving their own free agents:

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Carter has left the door open for a possible return — he expanded on his feelings in a recent interview with ESPN.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: The slot receiver couldn’t reach an accord with the team on a reported three-year deal, and he’ll test the market. One report says he has a visit set up with the Ravens.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Reportedly took a free agent visit to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to WEEI.com some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Spikes tweeted what was fundamentally a farewell note to New England on Tuesday. It’s expected he’ll draw interest as a free agent from several teams, including the Bills and Texans.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates, but like Mulligan, league sources expressed a belief that the Patriots would welcome him back at a fair market rate.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Late Tuesday night, Talib and the Broncos reportedly agreed on a six-year, $57 million deal that includes $26 million in guaranteed money.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates. However, it was interesting to see the news that the Patriots hosted veteran center Phil Costa on a free agent visit.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie
Hitting reset button on Patriots and their own free agents 03.10.14 at 1:23 pm ET
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With free agency set to open at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, here’s a quick look at where the Patriots stand with their own free agents:

Long snapper Danny Aiken: A restricted free agent, he’s signed a one-year deal to stick with the Patriots.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: The veteran said last year that it was the Patriots or retirement, and when New England came calling midway through the season, he returned without a second thought. While he sounds content with the possibility of calling it a career, he told ESPN the door is always open to return for 2014.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Comcast’s Mike Giardi has reported that there’s a “strong push” at Gillette Stadium to keep Edelman.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: No updates.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: The versatile backup agreed to a two-year deal Monday to remain in New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to WEEI.com some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: It sounds like Spikes is gone — he told the NFL Network on Friday that free agency could bring a “fresh start” for both him and the Patriots. It’s believed Spikes will draw plenty of interest around the league, but he could reunite with his former position coach (Pepper Johnson) in Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: The Redskins are apparently reaching out to Talib, and while the extent of their interest isn’t known, but it certainly makes sense from a familiarity standpoint, as new Redskins GM Bruce Allen drafted Talib in 2008 when he was with the Bucs and Talib played for new Washington secondary coach Raheem Morris when Morris was the head coach in Tampa Bay.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line 02.03.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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Logan Mankins is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. (AP)

Logan Mankins is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. (AP)

With the Patriots done for the year, we’€™ve got an end of the year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We started with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. Now, it’s the offensive line.

Depth chart: T Nate Solder, G/C Dan Connolly, G/T Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, T/G Marcus Cannon, T Sebastian Vollmer, G Josh Kline, G/T Will Svitek, G Chris Barker, OT Markus Zusevics. (C/G Braxton Cave, T Jordan Devey and OL R.J. Mattes are all practice squadders.)

Overview: It was an up-and-down season for the New England offensive line. On many occasions, the group was able to do an excellent job buying time for quarterback Tom Brady to deliver the ball, as well as create sizable holes for backs like LeGarrette Blount to run through over the course of the season. However, there were times — and part of this was due in part to breakdowns in other areas, as well as injury — that the line struggled to hold up. Over the course of the season, the Patriots faced some of the best defensive front sevens in the league, and while they were frequently up to the challenge, there were times where they had issues, particularly in pass protection. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that, as a group, the offense was still searching for an identity and struggling with the acclimation of so many new faces. But don’t tell that to the offensive line, a group that continued to hold itself to an almost impossibly high standard regardless of the opponent and situation.

As a group, it was clear that health was an occasional issue. Vollmer had a leg injury that limited him to eight games, while Solder missed a game because of a head injury. As a result, the Patriots had to rely on versatility and depth to get them through some of the toughest points of the season. After Solder went down late in the loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Kline stepped in at left guard and Mankins played left tackle. The same combo faced the Ravens the following week, and held up impressively in the face of the stern Baltimore pass rush.

In the end, much of the mental toughness that eventually became the calling card of the 2013 Patriots came from the offensive line, and, by extension, Mankins. Now the second most senior member of the roster in terms of time in a New England uniform (he was drafted in 2005, and while there have been guys who have been in the league longer — Andre Carter, Isaac Sopoaga — only Brady has been with the Patriots longer than Mankins), he’s the leader of the line, and one of the premier leaders in the locker room. After nine years in the league, Mankins — who was named a second-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his career in 2013 — continues to set the standard.

Going forward, this group will be interesting to watch. The Patriots have a decision to make on pending free agents Wendell and Svitek, and Vollmer faces a return from a leg injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season. And then, there’s the question of how the group will react to the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who leaves the franchise after 30-plus seasons. Stability, consistency and continuity have always been the watchwords of the New England offensive line, and as it enters a new era without Scarnecchia, the transition to new coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be something to watch in 2014.

Best moment: It’s shortsighted to measure an offensive line purely on sacks alone, but their work against the Falcons was pretty impressive — Brady wasn’t sacked in a September win in Atlanta. (The only game all season he wasn’t sacked.) The stretch drive the group was able to put together over the final three regular season games and the first playoff game, clearing the way for Blount to carry the offense on his back, particularly against the Bills, Ravens and Colts.

Worst moment: Probably the singular worst series for the New England offensive line was coming out of the half for the start of the third quarter against the Jets on Oct. 20: the first six offensive plays for the Patriots went as follows: sack/interception/four-gain gain/five-yard gain/no gain/sack. It’s tough to lay all that at the feet of the New England offensive line, but by Mankins’ own admission, it starts up front, and the line wasn’t able to get the job done. By the end of the quarter, a 21-10 lead turned into a 27-21 deficit, and ended up in an overtime loss. For more from Mankins on that breakdown, click here.

By the numbers: 1,218. The number of snaps played by Wendell this season, tied with Brady for most on the team.

Money quote: “I’ve coached a lot of tough guys. I don’€™t think there’€™s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead. Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’€™s something serious. Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that. He’€™s a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough.”€ — Bill Belichick on Logan Mankins

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo, Josh Kline
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