With Logan Mankins wanting out of New England and Patriots fans ready to show him the door, the team must move on and find a suitable replacement for its Pro Bowl guard. The Pats’ offensive line, which one writer ranks as the second-best in the NFL (with Mankins), has the important task of keeping franchise QB Tom Brady upright and opening holes for a stable of solid but unspectacular running backs. Luckily, the Patriots have always had a system of having offensive linemen who can play multiple positions along the line and have won championships with relative no-names starting. Throughout OTA’s and mandatory mini-camp, Bill Belichick has seemingly already begun putting his Logan Mankins Contingency Plan in place.
Nick Kaczur, the Pats’ starting right tackle for the better part of five years, has slid over to left guard while last year’s rookie surprise Sebastian Vollmer has manned the right tackle spot. Popular thought had Kaczur likely losing his starting RT job to the massive 6’8″ German, but it appears Kaczur may hold a starting job after all. At the moment, unless Vollmer falters, Kaczur’s competition at LG is reserve Dan Connolly, who has rotated in at times with the starting unit. Granted we are a loooooong ways away from the start of the season, if the season started this Sunday, this is how the offensive line would likely look:
- Left tackle: Matt Light
- Left guard: Nick Kaczur
- Center: Dan Koppen
- Right guard: Stephen Neal
- Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer
Free agency does not hold much in terms of starter-quality players.
The only somewhat viable options at the moment are Shawn Andrews and Kendall Siimmons. Andrews has battled injuries and declining performance, which forced the Eagles to release him. Simmons spent 7 years with the Steelers before joining the Pats last season for a short while before being released and hooking up with Buffalo for the remainder of the season. Simmons would likely get the nod here if the Pats looked to the open market for depth because of his experience with the team.
With all of this talk of life without Logan Mankins, is it a forgone conclusion that he is gone? The crew over at Patriots Football Weekly had an interesting debate yesterday over whether Mankins could return to the team or not. Even in the “yes” argument, there are certain conditions laid out that I just don’t see happening. You can voice your opinion and vote in a poll at the end of the article, and currently the No’s are winning 57% to 43%. Include me in that 57%, which is such a disappointment because the team really seemed to have a lot of positive momentum heading into training camp. Everyone was present at the mandatory mini-camp this past week except Mankins. Let’s hope that whatever happens, the team can keep that momentum going into the season.