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

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

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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 ESPN.com 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.