The New England Patriots are bringing back their entire starting offensive line for the third straight season, and while the unit struggled at times last season, that continuity can be valuable.
The familiarity is already paying off for Logan Mankins, who has a workout buddy in Foxboro this spring — starting right guard Dan Connolly.
“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home,” Mankins said Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position. You guys are working on the same things.”
Mankins also has seen starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer come through the stadium for workouts, as well as 2013 rookie offensive linemen Jordan Devey and Chris Barker.
“Right now, it’s just big boys in there throwing around weights,” Mankins said about their workouts.
Mankins’ role as an offensive captain will be especially valuable in 2014 after longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired this offseason. Mankins is prepared for anything under new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who was with the Miami Dolphins in 2011 and New York Jets in 2012.
“Yeah, it might, it might not,” Mankins said about the possibility of his role evolving. “I’m kind of the leader of that room before. So, I’m assuming it will be about the same. It just depends on how things are going and what is happening. It’s hard to predict how things are going to go.
“Me personally, I just want a coach that’s fair who’s gonna treat everyone the same, no one on a pedestal. He’s gonna work us hard, not let us get away with things. I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs, and he demanded a lot of us, but I think that’s what made a lot of us good players. That’s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”
Mankins said he’ll miss Scarnecchia’s guidance. Scarnecchia began coaching in the NFL in 1982 and had been the Patriots’ offensive line coach since 1999.
“It’s going to be a big change,” Mankins said. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued, but he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he’s enjoying life right now, and he’s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’s the only O-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now so it will be a little bit of a change.”
The Patriots are expected to acquire some offensive line depth in May’s 2014 NFL draft. It’s important to have all five starters back in 2014, however, with a new position coach at the helm.