FOXBORO, Mass. — Logan Mankins proved yet again Thursday that the guy who slammed the Patriots' organization through much of 2010 simply wasn't him.
His disdain with the way the front office handled his contract was real, but his public lashings of their business practices seemed out of character. And after participating in his first practice of training camp Thursday, Mankins might as well have brought an entire orchestra to help him bellow the company line.
It actually got to the point where he appeared offended at the notion that there might have ever been a contentious moment between him and owner Robert Kraft.
"Let's get things straight: Me and Mr. Kraft never had a problem," Mankins said. "I never said he lied. I think, when I said the organization, I never said he did, so let's get that straight right now. Me and Mr. Kraft never had a problem. We talked last offseason. We talked last season. We talked this offseason. We've talked in training camp, so everything is good between me and him."
Mankins and the organization were mired in a lengthy standoff in 2010. He refused to sign his restricted free agent tender, which in turn gave the team the justification to slash his salary in half. Then he held out for seven games before finally reporting to play at a Pro Bowl level.
The Patriots hit him with the franchise tag in February, guaranteeing him about $10 million for the 2011 season so long as he inked his signature on the contract. Mankins did just that — right away.
"I figured I'm getting paid a lot of money this year," Mankins said. "I should put in a full year."
Mankins proclaimed that he wanted to leave everything else in the past, have a good season and let things take care of themselves from there. He even went as far as to say he'd prefer to stay in New England for the long term.
"Yeah, I have great memories here, had a lot of fun," Mankins said. "I like everyone here, so we'll see what happens. I understand it's a business more now than ever, so we'll see what happens."
The bulldozing left guard wouldn't even rule out the possibility of signing an extension.
"Oh yeah, there's always a chance," Mankins said. "I've talked to the coaches, ownership, everyone, and we're all on the same page. We'll just see what happens."
Mankins was impressive in his first practice — the 10th of training camp, and the team's fourth in pads — and he was able to get the better of Albert Haynesworth, who leveled offensive linemen with ease during his few chances earlier in the week. Mankins easily won the initial battles against Haynesworth, though the guard benefited from having center Dan Koppen and left tackle Nate Solder on a double team. Haynesworth won his first man-to-man opportunity against Mankins, but the lifetime Patriot took care of the rest one-on-ones from there.
It was a good start after sitting around for a week. Due to the NFL's post-lockout rules regarding new contracts, Mankins could attend meetings at Gillette Stadium, but he wasn't allowed to practice until Thursday.
He's a little more sane now that he's got football back in his life, and he's in a better frame of mind, too.
"I'm just happy to be back out here," Mankins said. "I already was here for a week and just had to go to meetings, which was the most boring thing ever, so I'm happy to be out here practicing again. Hopefully I can contribute and help the team."
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