Erik Scalavino answers a frequent question about the Mankins situation from the PFW mailbag.
Does [Nick] Kaczur have the ability, in your opinion(s), to step up and fill Mankins' role on the team? Have to say I agree with Erik that he won't be able to mend things with the Pats. He's no off-the-cuff talker like Ty Law – if he says he wants out, I believe he won't settle for less then a trade. How will the team move on at the LG position?
Good question, Kristen. We’ve seen Kaczur play both tackle spots in his New England career, to varying degrees of effectiveness. And in a few practices this spring, he’s stepped in on a rotational basis at left guard. It’s difficult to gauge with any certainty how good he’ll be based simply on his work in a handful of no-pads workouts. However, I think he has enough of the necessary tools to do an adequate job there. He’s fairly mobile for a guy his size, plus I believe he has the football smarts to handle the change of responsibilities. I’ll be very curious to see how this transition plays out during training camp and the preseason.
If it fails, the Patriots will probably turn to one of their backup lineman, with Dan Connolly having the advantage at this point, in my estimation. He certainly has the skills to play any interior line position and gained valuable playing experience last season. We know he can move around in space, too, having lined up as a fullback and blocking tight end in various short-yardage packages a year ago. Rich Ohrnberger and rookie Ted Larsen will get their chances to impress, too. So, while the team will certainly miss having a Pro Bowler on the o-line, I don’t think they’ll suffer too much without Mankins.
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