Could Josh Kline be the replacement for the departed Logan Mankins? (Getty Images)

Could Josh Kline be the replacement for the departed Logan Mankins? (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In the space of 10 months, the Patriots have lost their longtime offensive line coach to retirement and their heart-and-soul offensive line captain to NFL economics.

The question is now, what will the Patriots do without Dante Scarnecchia and Logan Mankins. Part of that question has already been answered as new offensive line coach Dave Duglielmo has had a full spring and summer with the players he hopes will keep Tom Brady clean, healthy and upright all season.

But the second part of that equation is a big TBD.

Ask Nate Solder and he has no doubt that Duglielmo, Bill Belichick will find an answer from those offensive linemen left behind in the Patriots locker room.

“We have a lot of guys with a lot of good experience, like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer and there’s a whole list of guys who know what they’re doing. We can definitely get by,” Solder said.

Obviously, the Patriots are looking for much more than just getting by when it comes to keeping No. 12 upright. They’re not looking for the next Pro Bowler per se, but rather someone who will give them consistent play from the left guard position that they’ve gotten for the past nine seasons from Mankins.

And while Connolly and Wendell could be options at left guard, there are other names to consider who could step in immediately. Jordan Devey, Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon. All three have played the interior line at some point in their time in New England, with Devey and Kline getting the most reps during games while Cannon has played primarily tackle, filling in at right tackle last season when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a season-ending broken leg.

Then, late in the season, against the Ravens in Baltimore, Belichick provided some possible foreshadowing of life without Mankins at left guard. With Solder out with a concussion, the team shifted Mankins to left tackle. It was the 24-year-old Kline who filled in for Mankins at left guard, making his first career NFL start.

Whoever gets the call at left guard, Solder is completely confident that he can help lead the new group into the 2014 season.

“A ton of confidence,” Solder said. “Those guys work so hard and they’re awesome people. I have a ton of confidence. That’s why they’re here. The way I kind of view leadership is to do my job the best that I can. If that influences people, I hope it does, but that’s kind of the role I see myself in.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia breaks down the details of a blockbuster trade that sends six-time Pro Bowl starting left guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for second-year tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

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FOXBORO — For those Patriots who played with Logan Mankins, Tuesday was harder than any offseason or training camp practice they’ve had this season.


FOXBORO — For the former Patriots teammates of Logan Mankins, Tuesday was harder than any offseason or training camp practice they’ve had this season.

After their first practice without the six-time Pro Bowl left guard, they came off the field and had to face the reality that the business side of the NFL and the Patriots had hit home. Mankins’ locker was in tact along with some team equipment but his teammates were left to answer questions about his sudden departure to Tampa Bay.

“He’s the type of guy you don’t know if get that type of teammate ever again,” safety Devin McCourty said. “He’s a tough guy. The different injuries he’s played through, being out there every snap, every chance he could get. When I got here, he wasn’t at here at first because he was home and he missed first couple of games. He came back and you could see the difference up front in how everybody played. He went to the Pro Bowl in a half-year. I think that just spoke volumes about a guy who you just see his leadership stand out as soon as he steps on the field.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s a guy you look up to, and I’m a defensive back and that’s watching the offensive line. Tampa is going to get one helluva player, and guy.”

McCourty the player then spoke like McCourty a team captain.

“There are some things you can’t control. You just accept,” he added. “It’s tough, it’s tough. You just tell yourself, and it starts the older guys on the team, you have to go out there and play. You can’t just sit there and sulk or be disappointed in your mind. You just have to go out there and play and make sure the younger and go about it and play and follow your lead. That’s the way I looked at today.

“This time of year is difficult. When we have 90 guys, whether it’s a guy like Travis Hawkins, in my room every day asking me a bunch of questions, working his tail off. Coach says it every year, this is a tough time for everybody. Coaches don’t like making these decisions. This one felt a little bit more because of the type of player Logan was and how long he’s been here.”

Mankins is gone to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round pick. Matthew Slater is another Patriots player who, like Mankins, has served as a captain before. He admitted that once the team was informed by Bill Belichick of the trade before practice Tuesday, it was tough going about business.

“It is difficult,” Slater said. “You know a guy for a number of years, you get to know his family, his kids, and that makes it tough. There is always a human element involved. We signed up to do a job here, and we understand what that job entails, and we understand what comes along with that, but at the same time, you can’t separate yourself from the human element, and the emotions and feelings that come along with it.

“I think we’ll definitely have to be very mentally tough during this time, because Logan brought a lot in the department of leadership, a lot in the department in toughness. He brought a lot in a lot of departments. So we have to be mentally tough, we have to understand that Coach Belichick is always going to do what he thinks is best for the football team, and we just have to be resilient and move forward and there’s still a job to be done. That’s what we’re here to do.”

Several offensive linemen declined comment, understandably sensitive to the dramatic change in the locker room. But Nate Solder, suddenly a leader on the offensive line, was one of those who did speak.

“Man, what an awesome guy. What an awesome player. So honored to play with that guy. So honored to get to know him and his family,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. Him and his family, he has great morals, great ethics, a great work ethic. He’s a tremendous guy and is going to be great wherever he goes. So for the Patriots, we move on, as sad as that is. It’s exciting, too, we move on to the thrills of the season.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday to meet the mandatory NFL cutdown to a 75-man roster.

The Patriots announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday to meet the mandatory NFL cutdown to a 75-man roster.

They released six players: defensive lineman Ben Bass, defensive back Travis Hawkins, wide receiver Derrick Johnson, linebacker Deontae Skinner, defensive back Jemea Thomas and wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser. They also placed running back Tyler Gaffney and linebacker Cameron Gordon on injured reserve.

Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves:

Bass, 24, was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for DB Justin Green on August 15, 2014. He originally joined the Cowboys in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder spent most of the 2012 season on the Cowboys’€™ practice squad before being activated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 13, 2013. Bass appeared in two games as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 1, 2012. He went to training camp with the Cowboys in 2013 but was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season.

Hawkins, 23, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Delaware on May 12, 2014. Hawkins transferred to Delaware after two seasons at Maryland. The 5-10, 195-pounder, had 66 total tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defensed last season and was named first-team all-conference in 2013.

Johnson, 22, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Maine on May 19, 2014. He was released by the Patriots on June 9, 2014 and then re-signed on July 18, 2014. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder tied for the team lead with 60 receptions for 608 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. Johnson finished his college career with 116 receptions for 1,165 yards and four touchdowns.

Skinner, 23, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State on May 12, 2014. He was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder first earned a starting position at linebacker as a sophomore in 2011.

Thomas, 24, was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the 206th selection overall out of Georgia Tech. It was the third of three 2014 sixth-round selections by the Patriots. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder played 54 games, tying for the most in Georgia Tech history, and he played every position in the secondary. Thomas finished his career with 234 total tackles ad nine interceptions

Van Hooser, 23, was originally signed by the patriots as a rookie free agent out of Troy on May 27, 2014. He transferred to Troy for the 2013 season after beginning his college career at Tulane. The 6-foot, 195-pounder was a three-year letter winner for Tulane, finishing with 55 receptions for 805 yards and nine touchdowns. Last season at Troy, he played in 10 games and finished with 13 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns and returned 15 kicks for 237 yards.

Gaffney, 23, was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots from the Carolina Panthers on July 28, 2014. He was originally drafted by Carolina in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft (204th overall) out of Stanford. Gaffney was injured in training camp and was released by the Panthers on July 27, 2014. The 6-foot, 220-pounder, had a productive senior season in 2013, starting in all 14 games and finishing with 330 rushing attempts for 1,709 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. Gaffney played as a true in 2009 and then took the 2012 season off to play professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league

Gordon, 23, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Michigan on May 12, 2014. He was a four-year letter winner at Michigan, who appeared in 45 games with 15 starts at linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder began his career as a wide receiver as a redshirt in 2009 before being moved to safety in 2010 and linebacker in 2011.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Logan Mankins carved out an impressive legacy in his nine years with New England.</p>
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The Patriots have confirmed the trade of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay, and released a statement from head coach Bill Belichick on the move:

The Patriots have confirmed the trade of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay, and released a statement from head coach Bill Belichick on the move:

“€œLogan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player.  It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program.  He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached.  Logan brought a quiet but unmistakable presence and leadership that will be impossible to duplicate.  Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made — and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make — but like every other decision it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tight end Tim Wright (81) is the newest passing option for Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Tight end Tim Wright (81) is the newest passing option for Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Along with acquiring an undisclosed draft pick (fourth-rounder according to Adam Schefter) when they traded Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers on Tuesday, the Patriots also received second-year tight end Tim Wright.

Wright, who played at Rutgers as a receiver, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buccaneers following last year’€™s draft.

While at Rutgers he played for head coach Greg Schiano in 2011 and also last year in Tampa. (It should be noted Schiano has been around Bill Belichick and the Patriots quite a bit this year, including at the combine and at a few training camp practices.)

In his two seasons at Rutgers, Wright caught 50 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns, including 39 catches for 449 yards as a senior in 2012. After going undrafted, he signed with the Buccaneers roughly 30 minutes after the 2013 draft.

“I got to choose it and I was like, ‘I have to go down there with Coach Schiano,’” Wright said to NJ.com following the draft. “Those guys were showing me a lot of interest and they know what I can do, so I chose to go there.”

Wright was moved to tight end and played in all 16 games with Tampa Bay last year, starting in eight and finished with 54 catches for 571 yards and five touchdowns.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Wright’€™s 73 pass reception percentage was fifth among tight ends last season (min. 50 targets).

Tampa Bay was openly not pleased with Wright earlier this preseason.

“I’ll just kind of jump on where he’s been. He hasn’t played as well as he should be playing,” Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said on Aug. 18. “He’s dropped some balls. If you’ve been watching him at practice, he’s dropped balls. He’s a big part of what we want to do with the two-receiver, two-tight end set. Tim hasn’t blocked as well inside.

“Once you’re that H-back and you don’t block, now they just say you’re another receiver and teams start going nickel against you. But if they do that, you have to at least be a good pass catcher. And Tim is a good player, he just hasn’t played as well as he needs to lately.”

Currently the Patriots have three tight ends on the roster besides Wright in Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui and Steve Maneri.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable