Mankins: Mental toughness needed to overcome Seattle atmosphere


Mankins: Mental toughness needed to overcome Seattle atmosphere

FOXBORO -- If we know anything at all about Sunday's game between the Patriots and the Seahawks, it's that CenturyLink Field is going to be as loud as any stadium in the history of the sport.

For New Englanders who have never been to Seattle to witness a Seahawks game first-hand, all you have is the good word of the Patriots players who have played there before.

And veteran Vince Wilfork wants you to believe him when he says it's abnormally loud.

"Probably Seattle. Seattle is probably one of the loudest stadiums around," said Wilfork before Thursday's practice at Gillette Stadium. "And you know what? It shows. The offsides penalties and stuff. It shows."

Wilfork and the rest of the Patriots defense won't have it quite as bad as New England's offense though. Seahawks fans will want their quarterback to work under a much less hectic environment than Tom Brady.

So, what do offensive players think of the noise level in Seattle?

"It's a tough place to play," said Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins on Thursday. "Been there before. It's super loud. They have a good defense, so it's going to be tough.

"I've been in some loud ones. It's one of the loudest. Last time I was there, their team wasn't that good. They were out of the playoffs already and that place was still rocking. So, they've got good support out there."

For all the talk about New England's lightning-quick no-huddle offense, the Seahawks' fan base hopes to throw a wrench into those plans with their noise volume, making the Patriots' communication with each other that much more difficult especially on the offensive line.

"A lot of it's mental toughness," said Mankins. "Just being able to focus through that. It takes a lot of communication. You can't just look over and say it. You've got to scream it to the guy next to you, so he can hear you. Just making sure everyone's on the same page, when you can't verbally get on the same page all the time."

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'


Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100


Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).