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December 20, 2013

Patriots' Mankins ready to play tackle again

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill Belichick saw promise and versatility watching tape of Logan Mankins play left tackle in college.

The New England coach now needs his stalwart left guard to duplicate those efforts more than ever.

When starting left tackle Nate Solder left the Patriots’ loss Sunday against Miami because of a concussion, his second in two weeks, Mankins shifted from guard to tackle, spending almost the entire fourth quarter protecting quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side.

And if Solder is unable to return Sunday for the Patriots’ pivotal game against the Ravens — an unlikely scenario despite practicing in a limited capacity Thursday after not partaking at all a day earlier — Mankins once again will be called upon to fill the void.

“Scheme-wise, it’s not all that hard. I know all the plays at every position so that’s not tough,” said Mankins, who has started 127 of 128 career games at left guard. “Just the overall different angles, different foot work, that kind of thing. I have to process that pretty fast.”

He had no problem Sunday.

Solder, who had a concussion against Cleveland two weeks ago and was limited in practice last week, left the game against Miami after a hit to the helmet in the fourth quarter. Rookie Josh Kline stepped into

Mankins’ slot at guard while the nine-year veteran inherited Solder’s spot at tackle.

The Patriots (10-4) already are without starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Oct. 29 because of a broken right leg.

“We can’t dwell on the fact that someone may or may not be there. You just have to go with what you’ve got,” Brady said. “I have plenty of things I have to focus on. Whoever is out there, I have to trust that they’ll be able to do what they’re asked to do or else we wouldn’t be asking them to do it.”

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