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Welcoming back Logan Mankins and why it matters

Posted By Mike Petraglia On November 4, 2010 @ 12:15 pm In General | 3 Comments

FOXBORO — The man most affected by the return of Logan Mankins [1] says he’s very happy to see him back. And Mankins feels just as glad to see Dan Connolly [2].

“I know one thing. I had a lot more faith in Dan Connolly than you guys did before the season started,” Mankins said. “Dan is a great friend of mine. He’s done a great job, and it was fun watching him play, and get the opportunity to play to prove everyone that he can do it.”

Connolly’s response?

“Sure, that feels great,” Connolly said. “The hard work that I put in, the preparation paid off.”

When Mankins didn’t report to camp this summer, Connolly stepped in and assumed the role of starting left guard. The Patriots moved on and even Tom Brady [3] was impressed with the job the offensive line did in the absence of the former Pro Bowl [4] guard.

“I’ve never had more confidence in my offensive line than I have this year,” Brady said earlier in the season. Brady has been sacked 12 times in seven games, with four of those coming in one game (vs. San Diego). Four of the seven games, the offensive line allowed fewer than two sacks in a game.

Ask the men who play the game and they will all tell you an offensive lineman is nothing if you can’t trust him under pressure and in the clutch. From Brady to every offensive lineman, it was clear this week the Patriots all trust Mankins coming back to the team.

Just listen to the reaction of Mankins’ once and future linemates to his left and right – tackle Matt Light [5] and center Dan Koppen [6].

“It’€™s great to have him back, great to have him back,” Light said. “I mean, you know, a guys that’€™s put in a lot of work around here, and always good to have a guy like that back.”

How does Mankins look to Light right now?

“I think he’€™s weighing about 220 right now, is where he’€™s at,” Light joked by underestimating Mankins by a good 70-80 pounds. “No, he looks good, man, you know, Logo always keeps himself in good shape, so we know where he is on that end.”

Turning serious, Light said everyone in the Patriots locker room knew the clock was winding down and all were happy to see the hourglass run out.

“At the time, I mean, everybody in this locker room was doing what they got to do to get ready for the games and you kind of let that stuff sort itself out, and, you know, it works for the best, and I guess this is the best scenario so far,” Light said.

“You know, any time you can get a player back like Logan’€™s caliber, you know, he’€™s smart and tough,” added Dan Koppen. “We need more guys that we can have like that in the locker room, especially on the line, you know, it’€™s a good thing.”

The addition of Mankins suddenly gives the Patriots a huge boost in quality depth. Beyond the obvious insurance needed with the potential of injury, should they want to go to a hurry-up offense and rotate offensive linemen in and out on different possessions they now have that luxury with Mankins and Connolly.

While everyone understood the business end of the holdout, Koppen said Mankins’ return meant much more to him.

“He’€™s a friend of mine, so, you know, we talk and, you know, he was around, so it’€™s one of those things where, you know, his situation was his situation and it didn’€™t affect any of our friendships or anything like that in the locker room, and, you know, you just stay in touch with your friends. So there was contact, you know, obviously from a lot of guys,” Koppen said. “But, you know, he’€™s a good guy.”

And it was Connolly who seemed to echo the sentiment of the Patriots locker room.

“I’m good friends with Logan and it’s good to see him here,” Connolly said.

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URLs in this post:

[1] Logan Mankins: http://media.weei.com/football/logan-mankins.htm

[2] Dan Connolly: http://media.weei.com/football/dan-connolly.htm

[3] Tom Brady: http://media.weei.com/football/tom-brady.htm

[4] Pro Bowl: http://media.weei.com/football/pro-bowl.htm

[5] Matt Light: http://media.weei.com/football/matt-light.htm

[6] Dan Koppen: http://media.weei.com/football/dan-koppen.htm

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