But fighting on the practice field? That’s not something the Patriots Pro Bowl guard or any of his New England teammates seem interested in.
That’s by design. And via a direct order from Bill Belichick to his 90 players.
“That just comes from the top,” Mankins said of why there are no fights in New England’s camp practices. “We try to learn self-control. If you fight in practice it’s easy to do something stupid in the game and get a personal foul. We try to hold that anger in. No retaliating.
“Plus we’re a team. We practice hard against each other but we also pull for each other. It’s not just offense and defense. We’re a team. The offense, we want the defense to do well. We want to work hard with those guys and make them better. We want them to make us better. We don’t have time to sit out there and punch each other in the helmets or anything. Save that for game days.”
Sure there have been a few pushes, shoves and even a few harsh words between players and coaches. But no multi-player fights. No rumbling masses of bodies. Certainly nothing like we’ve seen in Oakland. Or Chicago. Or Atlanta. Or Buffalo.
It hasn’t always been this way, though. Back in the summer of 2012 the Patriots had a stretch of practices where fights were breaking out with regularity. That’s when Belichick instituted the current policy that’s policed the battles of the practice fields.
“Yeah. It takes just one bad time to ruin it for everyone else,” Mankins said with a smirk. “But I think it’s a good policy our team has. We don’t’ need to hate each other around here. We need to be one unit together.”
The way Mankins makes it sound, the Patriots might be described as a team of lovers not haters. But the feisty guard has no concern that when the time comes there will be plenty of edge from New England that opponents will have to deal with.
“We’ll fight when it’s time to fight,” Mankins said quite convincingly.