Mankins, offensive line cramming for Titans

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Mankins, offensive line cramming for Titans

FOXBORO -- With about 72 hours left before the Patriots' season-opener with the Titans, Logan Mankins knew that he and his fellow offensive linemen had a lot of work to do. It was time to cram.

After a preseason rife with injury and inconsistent personnel groupings, Tom Brady's personal protectors had just three days to round into regular-season form -- a difficult task to be sure.

Mankins missed a chunk of training camp as he recovered from knee surgery. Sebastian Vollmer nursed his ailing back for much of the preseason. Brian Waters, who had a Pro Bowl season last season, still hasn't reported. And second-year linemen Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon struggled very publicly during New England's first two exhibition games.

"It's coming together," Mankins said. "We've had a couple guys miss a lot of time so we're still working on it. We've got a lot of work to do between here and Sunday. Hopefully we can put our best on the field Sunday, play good together, trust in each other. We're going against a good defense. They're very athletic, very fast and they play hard so it's gonna be a big challenge."

For Mankins, Sunday could be particularly trying simply because he hasn't played much full-contact football since his return. He played sparingly against Tampa Bay in New England's third preseason game, and he didn't play at all against the Giants in their fourth and final exhibition. He's barely six months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL, and even he's not 100 percent sure how he'll be feeling if asked to play four quarters in Tennessee.

"It's always tough," he said. "It goes for everyone in the league. Not everyone plays a full game in the preseason. It's different for everyone. Myself not having too many reps, I just gotta trust in my conditioning and hopefully it's good enough."

The guys on either side of Mankins -- Solder at left tackle and, presumably, Ryan Wendell at center -- are surely hoping the same. Mankins said that as long as the three of them are on the same page, they should avoid any major gaffes.

"It's just the three of us seeing through the same set of eyes on that side," he said. "There should only be one call and that's the right call. If we start making too many calls then guys are saying things we don't need out there, that gets guys confused. We gotta be on the same page and trust that call and everyone do what it says."

Seventy-two hours and counting for them to get it all straightened out.

Patriots address OL depth with Joe Thuney

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Patriots address OL depth with Joe Thuney

The selection of Joe Thuney with the 78th overall pick means the Patriots hit a need position at offensive tackle.

Thuney played tackle on right and left side and, while he’s small relative to the Patriots mountainous starting tackles (6-5, 295 pounds), he will likely have a redshirt year to get used to the pro game. That’s what happened with left tackle Nate Solder when he was drafted in 2011 and Matt Light was still manning left tackle.

With Vollmer getting closer to the end, Thuney could conceivably play on the edge but he also has the versatility to play all five offensive line spots. The Patriots don’t need him at all five. They are two deep at center with Bryan Stork and David Andrews, seem set at guard with Tre Jackson, Josh Kline and Shaq Mason.

The depth behind Solder and Vollmer is where the concern is. Marcus Cannon hasn’t developed any consistency and Cameron Fleming is entering his third season but remains nothing to get excited about. L’Adrian Waddle was an in-season pickup the Patriots re-signed but he’s in the same boat as the other two. Keavon Martin and Chris Barker are end of the roster guys.

Thuney’s got a huge brain. He earned his degree in three years and is working on another in international studies with a minor in Spanish. While he’s seen as an aggressive, lunch pail guy with good feet but a little bit of body stiffness and no natural position, he’s got a lot of the traits the Patriots adore in terms of smarts, aggressiveness, versatility and coachability.

Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

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Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

Quotes, notes, and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Yankees.

QUOTES:

* "He gathered himself and got a little rhythm as the night went along.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That's a rarity for Betances to leave his breaking ball up like he did. Once David saw it up, he attacked.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz's game-winning homer.

* "There's no sign of him slowing down. Tonight is a prime example of it. Key moment, big hit when we need it. There's a long resume there and it's continuing to build.'' - Farrell on Ortiz's ability to deliver in the clutch.

* "There were some mechanical adjustments that I made. I came out a little erratic, trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much. But as game went on, I kind of got into a rhythm.'' - Owens on his start.

* "I saw him throw a lot of breaking pitches to Mookie. The one they hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's the kind of pitcher that, if you go up there looking for everything he's got, you're done.'' - Ortiz on his game-winning homer off Dellin Betances.

NOTES:

* Over his career, David Ortiz has hit 29 go-ahead homers from the eighth inning on.

* Ortiz has eight homers in his last 24 games against the Yankees.

* The win was the first this season for the Red Sox in a game in which they were tied or trailing after seven innings.

* The Red Sox have won five of their last six and seven of their last 10.

* The Yankees have been limited to three runs or fewer in their last six games.

* In 21 games, the Yankees have faced 10 lefty starters; in 22 games, the Red Sox have faced two.

* Masahiro Tanaka has issued just one walk in his last three starts.

STARS:

1) David Ortiz

With one swing of the bat, Ortiz untied a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a game-winning two-run homer.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley's penchant for delivering a big hit continued as he rapped a two-run double to left in the seventh to erase a 2-0 Yankee lead.

3) Masahiro Tanaka

He shut the Red Sox for six innings before allowing three hits and two runs in the seventh.

2016 NFL Draft: Patriots select QB Jacoby Brissett

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2016 NFL Draft: Patriots select QB Jacoby Brissett

The New England Patriots selected N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett with the No. 91 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

It sure looks like the Patriots are looking to get support at quarterback incase Tom Brady is suspended.