Logan Mankins wasn’t going to let some pesky ankle injury keep him out of the New England Patriots’ 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
It looked like trouble when Mankins had to be helped off the Gillette Stadium field early in the second quarter after running back LeGarrette Blount‘s 36-yard touchdown run. Head coach Bill Belichick was even surprised to see the Patriots’ starting left guard march back onto the field to start the next offensive series.
“Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’s something serious,” Belichick said. “Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then, when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that.”
It was Mankins’ very own Willis Reed or Paul Pierce moment. After so many injuries this season, though, it seemed only natural that the Patriots would lose a player like Mankins right before the playoffs.
But Mankins is also the offensive lineman that played through a torn ACL with “an aspirin taped to” his knee throughout the 2011 season. Belichick lauded his captain’s toughness on Monday morning.
“I’ve coached a lot of tough guys,” Belichick said. “I don’t think there’s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead.”
Mankins was one of just six Patriots who started all 16 games this season along with quarterback Tom Brady, center Ryan Wendell, right guard Dan Connolly and defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. It only makes sense that there’s three offensive linemen in that group, with Mankins leading the unit.