Mankins happy to be healthy for this year's playoffs


Mankins happy to be healthy for this year's playoffs

FOXBORO -- Logan Mankins wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his gray hooded sweatshirt. He was fresh from practice and a little worn out, but not beaten down. The grind of the regular season this was not.

"This is what you play for," Mankins said. "These are the games we wanna be in. It's always easy to go to practice when you're preparing for a game like this. It makes it nice. You wanna get better. You wanna prepare and do your best to win these games."

What makes the preparation for Sunday's Divisional Round playoff game against the Texans extra special for Mankins is that he's relatively healthy. It's been a difficult season for the left guard because of time he has lost to injuries. He missed six games with ankle and calf injuries, and he reiterated on Thursday that he was not quite 100 percent to start the season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

"I missed some games, of course it's been tough," Mankins said. "You'd like to be healthy for the whole season, but it doesn't always go that way."

He has overcome those lingering dings, though, and he says he is healthier now than he was at this time last year.

"I felt a lot better than last year at this time," he said. "I had a torn MCL, and a torn ACL, so I feel a lot better."

Though few knew it at the time, Mankins showed mind-boggling toughness when he played through torn knee ligaments last season, including New England's run to Super Bowl XLVI. That he won't have to deal with such a serious injury this year should make this year's playoffs -- his seventh postseason appearance in eight season with the Patriots -- significantly more comfortable.

The Patriots will need all of their offensive linemen at something close to full strength on Sunday in order to help keep a talented Texans defensive line, featuring star defensive lineman JJ Watt, at bay.

New photos show Sandoval has lost weight


New photos show Sandoval has lost weight

The last time a bunch of pictures of Pablo Sandoval made headlines, it was not a good sign for the Red Sox. The latest batch isn’t so bad. 

Sandoval became the story of spring training this season when photos -- specifically a Boston Globe one of him throwing -- revealed he’d gained significant weight. The veteran third baseman was surpassed by Travis Shaw for the starting job and began the season as a bench player. 

After three regular-season games, Sandoval was put on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. He was then shut down for the season in May due to shoulder surgery. 

In a tweet and story posted by FC Barcelona, a smiling -- and noticeably thinner -- Sandoval could be seen attending the club’s final training session. 

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Obama’s Super Bowl pick: Patriots over Seahawks, again


Obama’s Super Bowl pick: Patriots over Seahawks, again

Tom Brady didn’t go to the White House after the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, but the President thinks the Pats will be visiting 1600 Pensylvania Ave. again to be welcomed by President Trump (does that mean Brady goes?) or Clinton in the spring of 2017.

In an interview on Sirus/XM Radio with Sway Calloway, Obama sees a Pats-Seahawks rematch in Super Bowl 51. And if he were a betting man, he’d be going with New England, again. 

“I’ve got to say at this point, you have to put your money on Brady again,” Obama said. “I don’t see any strong teams. Seattle and Patriots have a rematch. That’s my call.”

Obama and the nation will get a preview of his pick on Week 10 at Gillette Stadium when the Pats host the Seahawks.

Oh, and the President likes the Golden State Warriors, particularly with the addition of Kevin Durant, to reclaim the NBA title.