Mankins: Incoming rookies will be 'way behind'

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Mankins: Incoming rookies will be 'way behind'

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Logan Mankins didn't mince words when asked how hard it will be for the 2011 rookie class to make up lost time if and when the lockout ends. "They're gonna be way behind," Mankins said Monday at the Third Annual Joe Andruzzi and Friends Golf Tournament at TPC Boston. "I remember when I was a rookie, I started DayOne and I still felt likeI didn't know everything. And I was there the whole offseason, the whole training camp, everything. They're gonna be way behind. I guess you'll see the guys who can pick it up really fast."With the lockout almost 70 days old, the toll is worth detailing. Rookie mini camps, passing camps,OTAs andwork with position coaches have already gone by the wayside.And thefact that the only rookies who theoretically could have playbooks are the ones who were drafted in the first round before the lockout was put back in place prior to the second and third round. And all the undrafted free agents - and unrestricted free agents - who would need to learn a new system and the simple logistics of getting around their new city can't do so yet. The Patriots gave their first-round pick, left tackle Nate Solder, Mankins' phone number when the lockout was briefly lifted. Mankins says he's spoken to Solder about dealing with the lockout and uncertainty.
"I'm more than willing to help any young guy," Mankins said. "He's in a tough situation. He doesn't know what's going on right now. He has no coaches to talk to. He's just trying to make it in this league and I'll help him any wayI can." We're probably already at the point where the 2011 season is being affected by the lack of an organized offseason. "The quality of play will be there but it may not start right away," said Andruzzi, the former Patriots' lineman who has dedicated himself to helping fight cancer with his foundation. "How many guys do you see miss training camp and then they get out there and aren't ready or pull something or something like that? You see it year in and year out with different players. "The (offseason work as a rookie with the Packers) was huge," said Andruzzi. "There were two rookie linemen - a first-round pick and I was the other one as a free agent. So I had to work hard. I was in that classroom, studying the playbook, studying film, in the weight room, trying to get that extra edge to get on the field. They're missing learning the playbook, learning the system, and ultimately learning the team."And, as Mankins points out,it's very hard to push yourself to the level necessary without someone prodding you. "There's nothing like having coaches there to push you," he explained. "That will be the hardest part for the guys this year:pushing themselves to the level a coach would push you. You either have it or you don't. You either want to push yourself to get better or you feel you're that good that you don't have to push yourself." Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Gronk: 'Can't wait to compete again and play ball'

Gronk: 'Can't wait to compete again and play ball'

Rob Gronkowski's been having more than his share of fun this offseason, based off what we've seen on social media, but he sent out a Tweet Sunday night that makes it sound as if he can't wait for training camp to begin.

Gronkowski played in only eight games in 2016 because of back issues that eventually required surgery, and missed all of the Patriots' run to the Super Bowl championship.

Of course, if you check Gronk's timeline beneath his 'I-can't-wait-to-start-playing-again' Tweet, you'll find a) a couple of hypes for his new show MVP, b) a re-Tweet in which he's helping Mojo Rawley get ready for Wrestlemania, and c) quasi-ads for the various products he endorses.

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

PHOENIX -- Bill Belichick may not be speaking with the media here this week, but there will be plenty for us to examine at the annual league meetings. 

Reporters were informed via a team spokesperson that the Patriots coach would not be in attendance at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning -- where in the past orange juice has been sipped and tape recorders have been bulldozed -- due to a scouting conflict. 

The breakfast is not mandatory for coaches so for Belichick to use his time at a college pro day (Florida, Texas and Iowa State all have theirs scheduled for Tuesday) or a private workout comes as little surprise. He's been busy on the Trail of Due Diligence in recent weeks, making visits to Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Michigan in order to get a closer look at prospects.

Five weeks behind, remember? No days off. 

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is planning to meet with reporters on Monday so we'll have an opportunity to hear from him on a variety of topics when that comes to pass. 

Here are some of the other Patriots-related stories we'll be doing some digging on this week as we keep you updated with blog posts, occasional television hits, tweets (@PhilAPerry), Instagram shots (@PhilAPerry), and maybe even a podcast or two.

-- What does the rest of the league think when it sees the way the Patriots have attacked this offseason? How will the new pieces fit? Do other coaches and executives see it as Belichick going all in on 2017? Or is this just a case of a team adhering to its motto of doing "what's best for the football team" -- both in the short and long-term?

-- What's next for the Patriots? They're not done building the roster, so where might they turn next? Will they add other lower-level free agents? Will they be looking to trade back into the first and second rounds? Which positions seem to be of interest to them in the draft, and how might that signal the direction this roster is headed?

-- What is the feeling on the future at the quarterback position in New England? We know the Patriots aren't looking to give away Jimmy Garoppolo, but do people around the league really feel as though a haul of draft picks won't get the Patriots to think twice about trading him? Is it possible that in this rare scenario -- where the franchise quarterback is playing at an MVP-level but headed into his 40-year-old season -- people could see the Patriots paying two passers a starter's salary?

-- Will anything happen with Malcolm Butler before the meetings are out? Some have speculated that if his status as a restricted free agent (with an unsigned first-round tender) is to change anytime soon, it could happen here, where presumably his agent will be able to hear offers from one or more clubs in person. Will Butler find a team willing to give him an offer sheet and relinquish its first-round pick to the Patriots? Or will he sign his tender -- whether it's with the intent to play for the Patriots in 2017, or to be traded?

-- Rules changes are coming. We just don't know which ones. Will the linebacker leap (executed by Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin under Belichick) be eliminated? Will Stephen Gostkowski soon be looking to blast kickoffs through the uprights due to the passing of a rule that would place the ball at the 20 as opposed to the 25 for such a feat? Will real-time replay decisions suddenly shift from the officials on the field to the NFL offices at 345 Park Avenue? We'll let you know which proposals are held up, which fall flat, and how the Patriots might be impacted. Belichick and his staff did not submit any proposals for the second consecutive year.