There was no update on Logan Mankins' knee during a conference call on Monday with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. His status for Week 17 is still unknown. What is known, though, is that the Patriots' healthy offensive linemen stepped up during the second half of Saturday's 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
Much of the praise has been given to players like Donald Thomas and rookie Marcus Cannon, who had to be thrown right into the fire after Matt Light was a late inactive and Mankins left late in the first quarter.
But beyond the on-field execution were the adjustments that New England's O-line made at the half. And those adjustments were made by offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who got plenty of praise from his fellow coaches on Monday.
"We have a lot of depth up there, because we bring in guys that are multiple-position guys," said O'Brien. "They're smart guys and they're tough guys, and then Dante gets them ready to play. So when one guy goes down, it's really the next-guy-up mentality. "
That mentality can easily be credited to the players for being ready when called upon. But the guy that keeps them prepared and in the right mindset is Scarnecchia.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dante, and what he's done in his career," said O'Brien. "He's a guy that I've learned a lot from. He really helps me a lot during games. I rely on him quite a bit. He's a no-nonsense guy, he's a very direct guy, and we have a good relationship, it's an open relationship. And I enjoy working with him. He does a hell of a job."
Veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters echoed those sentiments after Saturday's come-from-behind win against the Dolphins.
"He's a great coach, flat out," said Waters on Saturday. "And he's going to always preach that you've got to be ready to go. No matter what the situation is, he always makes sure those guys get reps during the course of the week and that they're always prepared. He's as tough on those guys as he is on anybody, to make sure that they're prepared and ready to go."
And according to Belichick on Monday, there's certainly a reason why Scarnecchia is the only coach in Patriots franchise history to be a member of all six teams that went to the Super Bowl.
"Dante does a great job for us and he has since Ive been here," Belichick said Monday. "We go back quite a ways back to the 96 season here. Dante, as Ive said many times before, is really just an outstanding coach at every level whether its working with experienced players or developing young players or game planning against sophisticated schemes or teaching the most basic techniques to rookies, undrafted players, things like that.
"He really is very thorough, well prepared, smart, communicates well with his players . . . I have a lot of confidence in him. Hes done a great job all the years that Ive been here. Im fortunate to have him as part of the staff."