Patriots’ Mankins ready to play tackle again

Bill Belichick saw promise and versatility watching tape of

Logan Mankins play left tackle in college.

The New England coach now needs his stalwart left guard to

duplicate those efforts more than ever.

When starting left tackle Nate Solder left the Patriots’ loss

Sunday against Miami because of a concussion, his second in two

weeks, Mankins shifted from guard to tackle, spending almost the

entire fourth quarter protecting quarterback Tom Brady’s blind

side.

And if Solder is unable to return Sunday for the Patriots’

pivotal game against the Ravens – an unlikely scenario despite

practicing in a limited capacity Thursday after not partaking at

all a day earlier – Mankins once again will be called upon to fill

the void.

”Scheme-wise, it’s not all that hard. I know all the plays at

every position so that’s not tough,” said Mankins, who has started

127 of 128 career games at left guard. ”Just the overall different

angles, different foot work, that kind of thing. I have to process

that pretty fast.”

He had no problem Sunday.

Solder, who had a concussion against Cleveland two weeks ago and

was limited in practice last week, left the game against Miami

after a hit to the helmet in the fourth quarter. Rookie Josh Kline

stepped into

Mankins’ slot at guard while the nine-year veteran inherited

Solder’s spot at tackle.

The Patriots (10-4) already are without starting right tackle

Sebastian Vollmer, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve

Oct. 29 because of a broken right leg.

”We can’t dwell on the fact that someone may or may not be

there. You just have to go with what you’ve got,” Brady said. ”I

have plenty of things I have to focus on. Whoever is out there, I

have to trust that they’ll be able to do what they’re asked to do

or else we wouldn’t be asking them to do it.”

Belichick certainly believes in Mankins.

The only film he saw of Mankins at Fresno State was of him

playing left tackle, but when the Patriots drafted him 32nd overall

in 2005, Matt Light already was entrenched as the starter. Mankins

was moved to left guard and has flourished, making the Pro Bowl

five times.

”I think there’s no question that he could have played left

tackle in this league, played for us,” Belichick said. ”But we

had Light there, we put him into the lineup right away at left

guard and he and Light played together for years and then we got

Solder and that was kind of the way it worked out.

”I don’t think there was ever a thought from the coaching staff

or from myself that he couldn’t play left tackle.”

Believe it or not, a few steps to the left translates into an

entirely new assignment, Mankins said.

”You’re going against faster guys (as opposed to) big, powerful

guys,” he explained. ”You’ve got speed guys on the edge. You’re

running around a lot more. Those guys are faster. You’re not always

just, someone slams into you. Your feet have got to be a little

quicker. You have to be a little faster.”

Mankins tried to emulate Light as best he could Sunday.

”I always watched Matt Light all those years where we were kind

of the same size,” he said. ”I figured when I’m out there I

should do what he did.”

If Mankins is lined up at left tackle against the Ravens (8-6),

he will be in for a tougher task than last week.

Linebacker-defensive end hybrids Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs

are one of the most talented tandems in the league, already

combining for 18 1/2 sacks this season.

”They’ve both played in this league a long time and I’ve seen

them on film tons of times,” Mankins said. ”They’re both very

good players. They’re good at what they do. They’re both powerful

guys and they get the job done out there.”

Mankins routinely does, too.

So much so that Belichick maintains he could play all five

positions along the offensive line.

Maybe even tight end?

”I could catch,” Mankins joked. ”I don’t know if I could get

open.”