Mankins makes Patriots mean-spirited

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Mankins makes Patriots mean-spirited

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - As the Patriots have ascended back to the top of the NFL's elite, you see a little bit more . . . chippiness in their games. In the blowouts, the ass-thrashing recipients turn scrappy. In the close games, the teams wanting to stand up to the Patriots know that they'll have to take and deliver a punch to do so. And, in getting back to where they were, the Patriots havere-embraced their "tougher than thou" mentality. A lot of it flows from left guard Logan Mankins, who rejoined the team Nov. 6 after staying away in a contract squabble."I think Logan is really a catalyst for what we do up there," said quarterback Tom Brady. "Hes a great player for us. Hes tough, hes physical, he brings really a mean spirit to the group. "Logan plays until the echo of the whistle," Brady said, meaning he plays past the initial blow of a referee's whistle. "It goes right up to the end, so he's always in the middle of some altercation or something like that. If there's a pile up, I know Logan's involved. That's just how he plays. That's his style, and I think he brings a great element of toughness to our offense."There's no doubt he'd also be described as dirty by some opponents because of his around-the-pile and post-whistle activities. But a lot of the best NFL linementhrough the yearshave had the same label applied to them - longtime Pro Bowl centerKevin Mawaebeing one of them. There's an enforcer role that offensive linemen have to fill and Mankins is adept at it. "You always want your team to play as one, for the 10 guys to support the 11th guy and all that," Bill Belichick observed. "That's what a unit is; it's out on the field. They're all playing together; they're supporting each other, both emotionally and from a functional standpoint, on the field."I know that there's stuff that goes on after the play at times," Belichick explained. "I think, as a team, you have to be able to stand up to that, not at the expense of getting penalties and personal fouls and all that, but to hold your ground and be able to play the game and not get pushed around out there."The Patriots have done an excellent job toeing the line between chippy and dirty(or penalizable). They have 65 penalties so far this season, fourth-fewest in the leaguebehind the Colts, Dolphins and Falcons (who have an amazing 49 penalties all year). Between keeping the ball in their possession, taking it from their opponents, turning mistakes into scores and playing within the rules, New England isdoing it better than anybody. And if a couple of coconuts need to get banged together along the way by Mankins and his buddies . . . so be it.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

The Patriots have been invited to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl LI victory with president Donald Trump on April 19.

How many players RSVP in the affirmative to the invitation remains to be seen. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a Patriots fan, announced the date at a press briefing on Thursday. Spicer noted that the visit will coincide with the 242nd anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord.

Though Trump considers Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as friends, several members of last season's championship roster have noted already that they didn't play to attend a celebratory trip to Trump's White House. 

The list of those who have gone on record saying they weren't interested in heading to Washington, DC this year includes safety Devin McCourty, tight end Martellus Bennett (now a member of the Packers), defensive end Chris Long (free agent) and running back LeGarrette Blount (free agent). Defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Dont'a Hightower also noted that they didn't plan to go.

The Patriots are the first championship team that Trump has extended an invitation to during his presidency.

Belichick and his staff will be hard at work before taking some time off to celebrate. The White House visit will take place about one week before Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

Report: Revis return to the Patriots looks 'increasingly likely'

Report: Revis return to the Patriots looks 'increasingly likely'

Darrelle Revis put together the worst year of his career in 2016 and was released by the Jets despite being guaranteed $6 million next season. The team was willing to pay him to simply stay home. 

A return to the NFL hasn't been ruled out for the 31-year-old and seven-time Pro Bowler, though, and multiple people are reportedly under the impression that Revis will make his way back to New England.

According to Jason La Canfora, a Revis return to the Patriots "looks increasingly likely." One personnel person told La Canfora that he believes Revis can still play, but his team is convinced he's headed to New England.

"We did our work on him," the personnel man told La Canfora. "He can still play. He can cover. He doesn’t have that long speed anymore; he’s not going to cover a No. 1 receiver deep. But he can cover in tight spaces and he has great instincts. The film is not as bad as some would have you believe. He’s a perfect fit in that quarters scheme Belichick runs, and they have the kind of safeties who can help him out, too. We’re convinced he’s going back to New England. It just makes too much sense."

The Patriots could have some depth concerns at corner should Malcolm Butler play elsewhere in 2017. They signed Stephon Gilmore to be their top bread-winner at the position, and they have Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones rounding out the depth chart.

Revis could be an attractive option to potentially fit into the mix as a top-three guy at the position, but does he still have the ability to reach that level? Quarterbacks had a rating of 104.2 when targeting him last season, and he has admitted he was in less than peak physical condition for the 2016 season. 

Bill Belichick typically likes to field motivated teams that are hungry to compete for championships. After Revis won his title in 2014 with the Patriots, he earned a huge pay day from the Jets and seemed less than fully-motivated in his second season after returning to the team that drafted him. 

Revis insisted recently that he still wants to play. 

"The hunger is definitely there," Revis told reporters last week after he had assault charges dismissed in Pittsburgh. "It’s just passion and love for the game. I’m excited for the season to start. I can focus on what team I can fit with and the best system."

Some believe a move to safety is coming for Revis, but the Patriots are well-stocked there with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon as their top-three options.