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Both sides quiet on Mankins issue

Wes Welker hauled in a few passes on the last day of minicamp. Now he and his teammates take a break. Wes Welker hauled in a few passes on the last day of minicamp. Now he and his teammates take a break. (Robert E. Klein/The Boston Globe)
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / June 18, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — For three days, the Patriots had a mandatory minicamp behind Gillette Stadium, and for three days, one player was conspicuously absent: Logan Mankins.

The offensive lineman, who had never missed so much as a regular-season practice for any reason, missed three, as he sits at home, disgruntled about his contract situation.

Mankins made headlines Monday when he told ESPNBoston.com he wanted to be traded because New England had misled him about a new deal. A league source said Mankins had a longstanding offer on the table that averaged $7 million a year for five years, although there was no information on the guaranteed money or structure of the deal.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio gave the company line when addressing the Mankins issue yesterday.

“I know Bill [Belichick] talked about it the other day,’’ he said. “I’m not going to really get into any sort of contractual discussion; we’ll leave that between the player and the club.’’

With the Patriots refusing more comment and Mankins responding to the Globe in an e-mail that he would not add more to his comments, the public part of this feud may be over.

But the private part will likely continue.

Unfortunately for Mankins, he has little leverage in this battle. Because of the altered rules of the uncapped season, he was denied the chance to become an unrestricted free agent; as is fully their right, the Patriots offered him a restricted free agent tender at the highest level, $3.268 million for the coming season. Mankins did not sign the tender by Monday night’s deadline, and the Patriots reduced their offer by more than half — again, something they have the right to do.

Since Mankins is not under contract, he is not obligated to attend minicamp or report to training camp July 28 with the rest of the veterans. By the same token, the team cannot fine him.

If he and the Patriots do not come to a contract agreement, the only thing Mankins can do is sit out until Week 10. By reporting and signing his tender by then, he will earn an accrued NFL season, giving him six and making him an unrestricted free agent next year.

Role players
New England receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who was hired before last season, was asked about his role and whether it has changed in the year-plus since he’s been with the team.

“I come out every day, and whatever they ask me to do, I work as hard as I can,’’ he said. “My job right now is to get the receivers to play at a high level and to go out and play hard and to play to the best of their ability, and that’s what I’m going to do.’’

O’Shea’s position group includes longtime veterans Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Torry Holt and David Patten, and relative newcomers Brandon Tate, Taylor Price and Julian Edelman.

But they all work together.

“We’re very fortunate to have that combination,’’ said O’Shea. “The veteran players do a tremendous job of helping along the younger players. I definitely see that on a daily basis. It’s one of the great things about having a combination of veteran players and younger players.’’

Moving pieces
Matt Light also was not in attendance yesterday. Without the starting left side of the offensive line, there was quite a bit of shuffling. Sebastian Vollmer took most of the first-team snaps at left tackle, while Nick Kaczur, who had been lined up at left guard for much of the week, was back at right tackle. Versatile interior lineman Dan Connolly served as left guard . . . After wrapping up the final practice and sending his players off on a nearly six-week vacation, Belichick said he was pleased with what his team accomplished. “I thought the players worked hard and had a good number of practice sessions that have been competitive,’’ he said, “but it’s still a good teaching progression and we got a lot of people a lot of reps. I think that will do us good in the long run, working guys at different positions. It’s a good evaluation of where we’re at and I think everybody has a lot to work on — coaches, players, individually, collectively. I think we have a good foundation heading into training camp.’’

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