New England Patriots Links 5/24/11 - Jermaine Cunningham Could Be "The Guy" at Defensive End in 2011

Jermaine Cunningham bats down a Chad Henne pass. Is he the Pats answer at DE?

Eric Scalavino reports tight-lipped Jermaine Cunningham is just trying to get better.

"I’ve been here. Workouts have been good. This is where I’m playing so I might as well [stay here and train]."

In his first year as a Patriot, Cunningham started 11 of the 15 games in which he appeared, despite dealing with some nagging lower leg injuries. He insisted today that he’s healthy and looking forward to the 2011 season whenever the labor/lockout crisis is resolved.

"You just go like it’s the regular season. Try to get better," he concluded. "It’s going good, that’s all I can say, man."

Karen Guregian reports Nate Solder gave Logan Mankins a call after being given his number during his brief visit to Foxboro and Mankins helped him out. Then she speculates on why the Patriots gave him Logan's number.

"He seems like a great guy," Mankins said. "I gave him a little advice and tried to help him out the best I can. I’m looking forward to meeting him. He called me but I’m more than willing to help any young guy that needs anything. He’s in a tough situation right now with no coaches to talk to. He’s just trying to make it in this league and if I can help him I will."

So, although Mankins may have contract issues with the Patriots, he won’t turn away from a kid who really could use the help. Which brings us to the second question: Why did the Pats slip Solder the number of Mankins and not the number of someone on a little more solid footing with the organization? Is it possible that before the lockout the icy relationship between Mankins and ownership thawed a little? Were things on the mend? Might there be more money for a new long-term deal for the Pro Bowler if the Pats decided not to re-sign Matt Light [stats]? Solder, after all, makes Light expendable.

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. 

Then again, maybe there’s nothing more to be read into this other than coach Bill Belichick wanting Solder to get advice from his best and most ferocious offensive lineman, a guy he wants his first-round draft pick to emulate. Maybe it’s as innocent as that, and Belichick rightly figured Mankins would be a big boy and help.

Ian Rapoport talks with Dane Fletcher about what the local player-organized workouts are like.

"It’s got a lot of everything," Fletcher said. "A little bit of on-field, a lot of off-field. We’re just trying to get every advantage we can right now."

"We don’t have playbooks right now," Fletcher said. "We try to catch up on film, a little bit. But it’s mostly getting your body ready, your body healthy for the year."

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