Belichick certainly believes in Mankins.
The only film he saw of Mankins at Fresno State was of him playing left tackle, but when the Patriots drafted him 32nd overall in 2005, Matt Light already was entrenched as the starter. Mankins was moved to left guard and has flourished, making the Pro Bowl five times.
“I think there’s no question that he could have played left tackle in this league, played for us,” Belichick said. “But we had Light there, we put him into the lineup right away at left guard and he and Light played together for years and then we got Solder and that was kind of the way it worked out.
“I don’t think there was ever a thought from the coaching staff or from myself that he couldn’t play left tackle.”
Believe it or not, a few steps to the left translates into an entirely new assignment, Mankins said.
“You’re going against faster guys (as opposed to) big, powerful guys,” he explained. “You’ve got speed guys on the edge. You’re running around a lot more. Those guys are faster. You’re not always just, someone slams into you. Your feet have got to be a little quicker. You have to be a little faster.”
Mankins tried to emulate Light as best he could Sunday.
“I always watched Matt Light all those years where we were kind of the same size,” he said. “I figured when I’m out there I should do what he did.”
If Mankins is lined up at left tackle against the Ravens (8-6), he will be in for a tougher task than last week. Linebacker-defensive end hybrids Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs are one of the most talented tandems in the league, already combining for 18½ sacks this season.