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Patriots' 60-second rant: Offense hasn't lost step without Mankins

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Posted Oct. 19, 2010 @ 9:37 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots lead the league in points scored per game. They have the 10th-best offense in the league and have allowed eight sacks through five games. They trail only the Seahawks and Jets for fewest QB hits allowed, with 16.

The trade deadline passed on Tuesday, and OG Logan Mankins is still a Patriot. Technically. He hasn't played for them this year or reported to a practice, waiting for a contract extension that meets his requests.

But how badly do the Pats, and their proficient offense, really need Mankins? And what will happen if he does, in fact, return in Week 11 to get credit for his accrued year?

Mankins is a two-time Pro Bowler. It's silly to think the offensive line is better without him. But Dan Connolly has filled in nicely while also serving as a fullback in short-yardage situations.

The Patriots traded away their main locker-room distraction two weeks ago when they sent Randy Moss to the Vikings. They are not a team with controversial figures, and Mankins' potential return to the team in Week 11 will bring media scrutiny as to how it affects their chemistry.

Guard is an interesting position. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell asked the question a couple of weeks back, wondering if anyone notices when a guard is missing. The Bears will tell you that not having competent players at the guard position could be detrimental. It's generally easy to see who the best and worst guards are, and Mankins is one of the best, but has Connolly been that much of a drop-off?

We won't know how this affects the Patriots until Mankins returns to the team. What we learned Tuesday was that he wouldn't be the third Patriots starter traded (in addition to Moss and RB Laurence Maroney). Head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have shown little problem trading players to stockpile draft picks, but their asking price for Mankins was reportedly too high.

For now, Mankins remains a Pat, and what looms is an awkward locker-room situation in Week 11 if he decides to return to a team that is doing just fine without him.

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