Will Pats walk it like they talk it with Mankins?

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Will Pats walk it like they talk it with Mankins?

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - He's gone from pissed off to Pro Bowler in the span of eight weeks. Logan Mankins, honored Tuesday night with his third Pro Bowl selection, is one of the NFL's most intriguing stories. But because of the tight-lipped nature of the Patriots and the smiling reticence of their left guard to entertain questions, it's hard to pin down the dynamic between the Pats and their best offensive lineman. On Wednesday, Bill Belichick was asked about Mankins' impact since returning to the team inWeek 9, three weeks before he had to in order to be credited with a "season played" in 2010."He's been outstanding, on and off the field," Belichick said. "He brings a great attitude and work ethic, superior toughness to the field and to the football team and that unit. Just an outstanding performer, a smart guy who doesn't make any mistakes, plays hard, runpass, every down, from the snap to the whistle, from the first play to the last play. Very consistent player. Always has been. He's shown that this year; it doesn't matter whether it's a Friday practice or the fourth quarter or the first play of the game, he's very, very consistent. And good. Very good." So how does the loftypraise jibewith the fact Mankins is playing for 866,250 this season, is a likely free agent at the end of the season (CBA uncertainty prevents us from being, well, certain) and is on record as saying he wanted to be traded and hasn't said anything yet to indicate he'll be sticking around. Mankins dryly answered when asked if the uncertainty of his future has him playing harder. "Not really," he said. "I don't know if you ever watched any of our games, but I tend to play hard a majority of the time, so I don't think I'm playing for a contract right now."

Can the Patriots let a player like that storm off? Or merely walk away? Especially when aging but still useful left tackle Matt Light is headed toward free agency as well. Belichick parried by saying, "Right now, it's just about getting ready for Miami. There are a lot of other things we can talk about, but none of them apply at this particular time."The lay of the land, best as we can read it, is that there's a yawning disconnect between the football and business sides of things on Mankins. The Patriots value him. So much that they offered him a five-year deal that would have put him in the top-five highest paid players at his position. And while that may seem a little modest given that Belichick seems to feel he's as good as anybody, you have to remember Mankins was a restricted free agent this past offseason. He was under the Patriots' control but hoping to be paid as if he was on the open market. Now, it seems the tack being taken is to kill Mankins with kindness while driving a wedge between the player and his old-school agent, Frank Bauer.Bauer, in my opinion, screwed this deal up royally. Instead of the 3.2 million tender Mankins could have been playing under, or the 40 million or so multityear deal he could have signed, Mankins is making less than a million and currently unprotected long-term if he were to suffer a catastrophic injury. Proclamations made by Bauer that the Patriots had "totally lost" Mankins seem absurd now. What remains to be seen is whether Mankins is willing to stay, or is just smiling through his situation as he waits to doff his cap to New England, hug his teammates and coaches, whip off the front office, and head to free agency.

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

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

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Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

FOXBORO -- Patriots left tackle Nate Solder has been through a lot over the last few years. 

He battled and beat testicular cancer before the 2014 offseason and then went on to help the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl title. In 2015, he tore his biceps in Week 5 and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. Just weeks later after suffering that season-ending injury, Solder's son, Hudson, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys. 

A quiet leader in the Patriots locker room, Solder has used his platform with the team to spread awareness stemming from personal hardships in addition to serving as a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. For his devotion to helping those in need, and for the example he sets at his job and in the community, he has been named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2016. 

Solder also participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative wearing cleats to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which gives financial aid to cancer patients and their families. He also supports The Fresh Truck, which describes itself as a mobile food market on a mission to radically improve community health.

Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi have also recently been named Ed Block Courage Awards-winners for the Patriots. 

The team's training staff, led by head trainer Jim Whalen and assistant trainer and director of rehabilitation Joe Van Allen, was also honored on Tuesday as it was named the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

"The annual award, named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who demonstrated an untiring dedication to helping others, recognizes an NFL staff for their distinguished service to their club, community and athletic training profession," the Patriots announced in a statement. 

In the release, trainer Daryl Nelson and physical therapist Michael Akinbola are also credited with helping keep the Patriots healthy. 

Others, including head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and team nutritionist Ted Harper, have a hand in keeping players at their physical peak. Combined, given the overall health of the roster this season, they've all had a hand in keep the team humming as it heads into its sixth consecutive AFC title game.

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that stunts like Antonio Brown’s Sunday night video are the kind that get good players shipped out of town.

“He's a great player, respected largely in the locker room but incidents such as this don't help him in that regard,” said Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and others at a Tuesday press conference in Pittsburgh. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team. Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.” 

Tomlin, who referred to the Patriots as “a--holes” after the Steelers beat Kansas City in a Divisional Playoff game, apologized for his profanity and the other off-color comments made in the 17-minute broadcast.

“Like to say the language on the video is regrettable, by me and by others,” Tomlin stated.” That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and interactions between us. As a parent, as a member of the community I take that very seriously. I issue an apology in that regard.”

Tomlin added that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect on the game, on the Patriots, on the Steelers. Game is too big.”

Returning to Brown – who has yet to address why he thought this was a great idea – Tomlin said, “It was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league policy. He has to grow from this. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented and those things get minimized with incidents like this."