Just days after inking his new six-year, $51 million contract, All-Pro guard Logan Mankins told reporters that he hasn't had time to process the windfall. However, he's relieved that he no longer has to think about the situation, which has been the source of much controversy for the past year and a half.
"Oh, it's great," he said after practice Sunday. "Really happy now I'm staying here hopefully for the rest of my career. Just want to thank the Kraft family [who own the Patriots], Coach [Bill] Belichick and the guys upstairs [in the front office]. I'm glad this is done with and I'm very happy."
Mankins maintained that he wasn't involved in the negotiations, leaving that heavy lifting to his agent, Frank Bauer, and that he didn't even realize how close the two sides were when he spoke to reporters last week.
The only concern Mankins has now, he said, is becoming complacent.
"That's one of the things I told my wife, I said, 'Now I have to make sure I earn it.' I don't want to be one of those guys who shows up to collect his check, or one of those guys who gets hurt every year. Hopefully I can stay healthy and give my best effort."
As one of the highest paid players on the team now, might Mankins assume more of a leadership role in the locker room?
"I don't know," he replied. "I think guys follow me already because of my work ethic. They see the hours that I work. I think that part takes care of itself. Maybe someday I'll have to speak up a little bit more out here. When that time comes, we'll find out.
"Hopefully we can have a good season and I can help this team win games for the next six years."
Pepper-ed with questions
With the influx of new players along the Patriots defensive line this summer, one man whose job may have become more challenging - more exciting, at the very least - is position coach Pepper Johnson.
From high-profile acquisitions like Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter, to returning vets like Eric Moore and Gerard Warren, to new but unproven additions like Mark Anderson, Johnson has his hands full trying not only to teach them the system and any new wrinkles to it, but also evaluating how their skills fit in.
Speaking to reporters before practice Sunday, Johnson said he's doing fine learning all the new names and faces, and that he's looking forward to the new season in general. The most challenging aspect of the job, he said, was having to report to head coach Bill Belichick, for whom he used to play as a member of the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets.
"Yeah, it doesn't matter what player comes out here," Johnson stressed, "so, it doesn't matter who comes out here, I'm going to get the best out of you. That's what Coach expects and that's what, that's the reason why I'm here. I like to believe he had a lot of confidence in me as a player. That's why I'm on his coaching staff. So, whichever player he puts in front of me, it doesn't matter. I'm going to coach him the way Coach Belichick wants him coached."
The immensely talented Haynesworth, who hasn't been on the practice field for quite some time, comes with considerable baggage from his previous stops in Tennessee and Washington. Yet, Johnson downplayed the perception of Haynesworth as a difficult player to manage.
"I'm not much on reading the newspapers, so, I don't know that much about him," Johnson acknowledged. "You hear rumors, of course. But before he came into the door, that's when a lot of people were telling me, 'Hey, he must be some guy that's hard to deal with.' But I'm born and raised in Detroit, so, I don't know if there are too many people that would be hard for me to deal with. I'm not a person who sits up and judges. The Albert Haynesworth that came through the door and shook my hand and started talking to me ... that's the person I'm dealing with. His past is his past."
Another point Johnson conceded was the lockout and its impact on football preparations during the offseason. Not having the normal amount of time to work with players has been unfortunate, for players like Moore, for example, who arrived in December of last season and could have benefitted from a full offseason of study here in Foxborough.
Is that particularly important now that it seems like the Patriots are lining up more often in a 4-3 formation rather than their traditional 3-4 alignment?
Johnson wouldn't bite on that question.
"Like I said, Coach Belichick wants techniques taught, he wants the defense learned, and he wants to know who can learn it to the ability that they're, that they don't need a babysitter, they don't need someone to hold their hand while they're out there on the football field. That's my job, to find out what guys can handle all the information and how do you teach them. Some guys, you can just hand them a piece of paper and they can read about techniques and that's good with them. Some guys need diagrams, some guys need on-field training. I find out which is which, how do they learn best, and take them to the drills."
Look who's back
For the first time in camp practices this summer, New England's defense lined in their customary 3-4 against the Patriots offense. It only lasted a few snaps, before they went back to what has been their normal 4-3 look this preseason.
Andre Carter and Eric Moore were the right and left outside linebackers, respectively, with Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham rotated in. Meanwhile, Jerod Mayo and Dane Fletcher manned the inside spots.
On the line, the first group to take reps were Kyle Love at the nose, with Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren to his right and left, respectively.
More Sunday camp notes
Who's Hot: Andre Carter
Whether it was at defensive end or outside linebacker, in one-on-one drills or team work, the new guy was making plays all afternoon, mostly in the offense's backfield.
Who's Not: The rest of the defense
Particularly in pass coverage, the D gave up several big plays in 7-on-7 and team 11-on-11 action.
Play of the Day:
During the team period at the end of practice, quarterback Tom Brady took the snap from center and dropped back to pass from about his own 35. Running back Danny Woodhead stepped up to block a charging Jerod Mayo, who was shooting the A-gap, but was crushed underfoot. Mayo continued toward Brady, who launched the ball at the last moment. Wide receiver Wes Welker was racing down the right numbers, with cornerback Leigh Bodden giving chase. The ball was underthrown, so Welker stopped to adjust, and cornerback Devin McCourty, covering another player, raced in to try for the INT. However, the ball fell between Bodden and McCourty, right into Welker's hands as he fell to the ground.
Quote of the Day: "I don't know ... just save it."
- Logan Mankins on what he'll do with all his new money