Monday, August 13, 2012

Mankins on Patriots' O-line: 'It's been a weird camp'

Photo: jdn, Flickr 

Between injuries and inexperience, the New England Patriots have issues across their offensive line.

Veteran guard Logan Mankins finally made his way back to the practice field over the weekend, six months after getting ACL surgery. His return is critical for a group that's trying to get in regular-season form despite all its setbacks.

"It’s been a weird camp. A lot of guys coming in and then they’ll come in for one day and then they’re hurt so it’s been a lot of shuffling parts in there," Mankins told the media Sunday. "I think there were a few practices we only had eight or nine guys. That’s pretty tough during camp – not having two full lines.

"I think the guys are in good shape, they’ve been working hard and they’re working hard on the plays and they’re getting better each day. I think they did a good job in the game the other night and gave us some things to build off of."

Second-year left tackle Nate Solder, who is replacing Tom Brady's longtime blindside protector in Matt Light, was iffy Thursday night in New England's preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.

Solder got beat on a few snaps and was called for two holding penalties. However, Mankins, who will be lining up alongside Solder, isn't concerned.

"I have a lot of confidence in Nate. Nate is one of those guys that’s going to do everything in his power to get better and to work hard," Mankins said. "He’s always studying, always lifting, always running. If you’ve seen him, he’s in phenomenal shape and he’s a great athlete and he’s got the mindset to work hard.

"He does what the coaches ask him; he does what older guys – the advice we give him he takes it to heart and tries to do it. Nate is going to do a great job and we expect him to do a great job."

Mankins was also asked if he knew when fellow guard Brian Waters would show up to camp. He didn't.

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