Mankins, O-line always prepared to speed things up

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Mankins, O-line always prepared to speed things up

FOXBORO -- There are a few guarantees in life, one of which being that the Patriots will go no-huddle at some point on game days.

You know it, I know it, and the Ravens know it.

New England's ability to speed things up is one of its biggest reasons for continued success on the offensive end. That, and some guy named Tom Brady. The two go hand-in-hand.

But while Brady is busy calling out plays, it's on the offensive line and rest of the offense to be all-ears in order to be on the same page.

"We have words for everything," Logan Mankins said. "So, the play is run, and then Tom will make a word -- he calls out some words and some of them mean the play and some of them don't. So, we just have to know which ones are live and which ones are not."

It's more than just listening though. The entire offense -- including the offensive line -- has to be physically ready for the rapid pace. That's done between games, during practices and in the weight room.

"Well, you know it is tough sometimes on the conditioning," Mankins admitted. "But we're pretty conditioned for an offensive line, if you would call us conditioned at our position. But yeah, a lot of time we catch them off guard; they're not lined up. A lot of times that works to our benefit, sometimes it doesn't. Because guys aren't where you expect them to be or where they should be, so you get confused a little, but I think for the most part we've done a pretty good job of getting everyone in the right direction on the right guys. So when you do catch them off-guard it works out pretty good sometimes."

But the hurry-up style of play isn't welcomed with open arms by some teams and players around the league. Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo made headlines last Sunday when he criticized the Patriots for playing that way.

Ayanbadejo tweeted, "New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can't really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot B4 a fight."

Then, "Are you watching the game Pats vs. Texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em B4 they set up. It's a gimmick."

Ayanbadejo didn't stop there though. He called out the Patriots for Spygate as well.

That led one reporter on Thursday to ask Mankins if comments regarding Spygate, such as the one Ayanbadejo made, bothered him?

"No, that was a long time ago," Mankins said.

"It doesn't get under your skin at all?" the reporter followed up.

"No, but you are," Mankins said with a smile.

And on Sunday, the Patriots hope to get under the skin of the Ravens any way they can and as fast as possible.

The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

BOSTON — Rafael Devers is here and there’s a bundle of reasons to be excited. There’s reason, too, to be skeptical. 

Here is a look at the potential pros and cons, depending on Devers’ success. We’ll start with the good as the 20-year-old top prospect heads to the big leagues for the first time.

PROS

Infusion of energy

In the same way a trade can bring a boost of morale, so too can the promotion of a top prospect. It’s new blood walking through the door, either way. There’s help for a group of hitters — and by extension, pitchers lacking run support — who need to see a lift from the front office. Sox manager John Farrell previously acknowledged the sense of anticipation leading up to the trade deadline. The mood heading into Devers’ first game should be an exciting one.

Production

Virtually anything is better than what the Sox have had offensively at third base. Devers’ minor league hitting has been a spectacle. They wanted to see how he adjusted to Double-A pitching and he did so admirably. He walked into Triple-A and kept raking, with three hits in his final game. The ceiling is very high.

Trade leverage

Theoretically this applies to Devers directly. If the Sox wanted to deal him, he’d be worth more as a big leaguer with some success. But if we believe everything the Sox say, they don’t want to trade him. They’d be crazy to do so. Leverage, then, comes in another form. Those teams that the Sox have talked to about third-base help, or hitting help, in general now get a message from the Sox of “Hey, we don’t need you.” Potentially, any way.

Feet wet for the future

A taste isn’t always a good thing, but it often is. One way or another, the Red Sox have to hope that Devers’ first stint in the big leagues lays the groundwork for the future. Growing pains might be inevitable but in some way, the sooner he can go through them, the better. If he comes off the bench at times, that’ll be a new experience he can have under his belt, although you wouldn’t expect he’ll need that skill too much early in his career.

Prospects saved, or repurposed

It’d still be a stunner if the Sox don’t make a trade at the deadline. It just wouldn’t be the Dombrowski way to stay idle. But Devers’ arrival might allow for a different allocation of resources. Whatever prospects the Sox were willing to put toward a third-base upgrade could go toward another bat, or a reliever or both.

CONS

Uncertainty

This is the biggest concern. Even if Devers rakes for the first week and thereby convinces the Red Sox they don’t need to trade for a third baseman, what does one week really tell them? A month isn’t really enough, either, but it would have been a lot better. (There is always the possibility of a trade in August.) Devers is still missing what the position has been missing all along — a known quantity. Someone with a major league track record, someone who can provide as much certainty as can reasonably be found.

Public about-face

Promoting Devers to the majors for the purposes of evaluation ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline would have been wiser at the start of July. He was raking after two months at Portland. It’s clear the Sox didn’t intend to move Devers with this kind of speed. They’ve adjusted on the fly, which is necessary sometimes, but Dombrowski said on July 14 — the day Devers was moved to Triple-A — that "I don't want to put it on his back that we're counting on him in a pennant race.” Didn’t take long for that to change.

Defense

Devers made four errors in 12 games at Pawtucket and has 16 in 72 games between there and Portland. One scout who has seen Devers doesn’t think he’s ready defensively yet. From there, it’s worth noting the context at this position: how chaotic third base has been for the Sox this season. Basic plays were not made for a time, and that’s how Deven Marrero ended up with a job. A drop off in defense is fine, but repeated errors on routine plays won’t work, particularly at a position where the Sox have already lived those woes.

Development

It’s a natural worry for a 20-year-old kid: if he doesn’t do well, can he handle it mentally? He wouldn’t be in the big leagues if the Sox didn’t think so. At the same time, you run the risk of a slow-down for a player who was chugging right along. Devers is poised to share time for now, which means he may well come off the bench, something he hasn’t had to do.

Loss of leverage

If Devers looks bad for a week — as in, truly overmatched — the Sox aren’t going to have any better position for a trade for an established infielder or bat. If anything, the potential trade partner would gain ground.