FOXBOROUGH ó The change was small, but unmistakably stark.
Logan Mankins, the Patriots left guard for the past nine seasons and an offensive captain, is just as well known for his grit toughness as his signature beard. But on Wednesday, the Patriots first day of training camp, he appeared clean shaven, as if starting a new slate.
"I know," Mankins remarked. "(But) if I donít clean it up now, I wonít do it for a while."
While his facial hair has changed, his outlook on the season, as well as training camp, has not.
"We have pretty high expectations every season," he said. "We expect to have a good football team and play good football and try to be there at the end. We added some good players and we kept some good players from previous years. I have the same expectations I do every year: for us to have a good football team. You just have to play the games and see how it goes."
For Mankins, who turned 32 in March, there's no slowing down. At least not yet.
"At this point, youíd rather get to the games," he said. "I understand what training camp is for. Itís needed. Itís necessary, so itís just one of those things that you have to put yourself through and it makes you better. It gets you in good shape, so itís necessary."
The veteran guard said he doesn't plan to retire anytime soon.
"I just want to play until I think I donít feel good Ė and if I can still do it," Mankins said. "If I canít do it, I donít think Iíll keep going once I donít feel Iím playing the way I want to."