The Pro Bowl guard had to be helped off the field with an ankle injury in the Patriots’ Week 17 win over the Buffalo Bills. Even head coach Bill Belichick was surprised to see Mankins come back for the next drive. It’s moments like those that led Belichick to call Mankins one of the toughest players he’s ever coached.
“I don’t know. I must have him fooled,” Mankins humbly joked about Belichick’s praise. “I learned that kind of stuff from my dad. Kinda, the guys that he worked with. They’re all the tough guys and they always took pride in never missing days of work and always being there no matter what the circumstances were.”
Mankins played the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL. So, he knows a thing or two about suiting up regardless of the situation.
Mankins’ father was a cattle rancher. The offensive lineman said he was “kicked, ran over, all kinds of stuff” while working with his dad, but he never sustained an injury worse than those suffered on the football field.
Mankins had a walking boot in front of his locker last week and missed all three days of practice. The week off served him well, however, since he’s been practicing in a limited capacity this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“The bye week was huge, so that’s always good,” Mankins said.
“I’ve been limited in practice, but it’s going good. It’s improved every day. We’ll see what happens by Saturday.”
If Mankins was able to play through a heavily taped up injured ankle last Sunday, surely he’ll be out on the field for New England’s playoff game. He said he feared the injury could keep him out when he first got hurt.
“Yeah, that always creeps in there at first,” Mankins said. “Usually when you get an injury, that’s the first thing that crosses your mind, that you’re going to be out for a while. And then you just take a few moments and really see what’s going on.”
If the ankle is still bothering him, Mankins can just treat it the same way he dealt with his torn ACL in 2011 — by taping an aspirin to it.
“That’s our job,” Mankins said about playing through less-than-deal circumstances. “And our No. 1 thing here is do your job and you can’t do your job unless you’re on the field.”