FOXBOROUGH -- When offensive lineman Logan Mankins talks, we listen.
Part of the reason is that Mankins, now in his ninth season with the club, is the third-longest tenured player on the team behind quarterback Tom Brady (14th year) and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (10th season), which gives him a different perspective than most. Also, Mankins seldom pulls punches; he tells it like it is.
“When you think back, it sounds like a long time,” Mankins said of being the third-longest tenured Patriot, “but it went like that.”
At that point, Mankins snapped his fingers.
Getting the team’s offense to the desired level is anything but a snap, and that’s a point Mankins made when asked what he sees from the unit at this point.
“It’s just Day 1 in pads, we’re still installing, we haven’t even got all the plays in yet. We started at the beginning, with the easiest plays, and we’re working our way in,” he relayed. “Maybe by next week, after we play the Eagles [Aug. 9], we’ll have a better idea.”
One of the highlights of a full-pads training camp practice is watching Mankins go head to head against Wilfork – two players at the top of their craft.
“It makes you a ton better,” Mankins said. “To win against Vince, you have to do everything right in 1 on 1s. He’s all-go, straight-forward, a big strong man. If you don’t do it right, he’s just going to push you back. If you don’t get your hands in the right spot, it’s over for you. It makes you really focus on your technique.”
Elsewhere on the practice field, the Patriots worked on goal-line running at the end of Sunday’s workout, which is an area of the field where offensive linemen like Mankins truly earn their keep.
He liked the results, for the most part.
“Offensively, I think it went pretty well, 3 for 4, except for that one we had a fumble,” he said. “That’s never good to fumble down there. We’ll learn from that one. But our defense has some big, strong guys in there and I think if we ever have success against our defense, it should help us.”
Some more soundbites from Mankins:
Running game in focus. “We would love to come out and just run it down everyone’s throat, but we know that’s not always going to happen. We just want to be, at least, efficient in the running game. … [Last year] there were some teams we just beat up in the run game. Some teams we were average. Some teams we were below average. I think our short yardage was great; we ran the ball well there. I know we ran the ball a lot – top  in rushing yards and [near] the top of the league in attempts. So we got our chances and the majority of time we did pretty well. There were other times, against really good defenses, where we can do a lot better.”
Impressions of the young defensive linemen. “I get to watch them a little. Most of the time I’m dealing with Big Vince and my hands are full. But they look good. They’re moving pretty fast. They’re trying hard, a lot of effort. It starts with effort.”
Transitioning to full-pads work. “It always starts with conditioning and the first day of pads is always a hard one. It’s a lot hotter with all the pads on, so you’re sweating more and you get tired faster. It always comes down to technique. Your technique is going to be rusty and when you get tired your technique gets worse. It comes down to conditioning.”
Health report. “I feel good. I feel really good so far and hopefully that continues. Way better than last year. Last year I was still running on one leg. This year it’s nice to be healthy.”