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New England Patriots Links 8/11/11 - Patriots Make Mankins Highest-Paid Guard in the NFL

Robert Kraft tips his hand a bit on the Logan Mankins deal hours before it was announced.

We very much think that Logan is among the best there is at his position. We drafted him and we want him here.

Mike Reiss tells us what he'll be looking for tonight with the Patriots finally back on the field.

Can't miss Nate Solder. The first-round draft pick should get a ton of action at left tackle. At 6-foot-8, you can't miss him. Solder shows signs of being the left tackle of the future, but the team appears to be counting on veteran Matt Light to bridge the gap until he's ready. With Light still on the active/physically unable to perform list, Solder is getting a lot of reps in practice, and as one would expect with a rookie, it's been up and down.

Christopher Price offers 10 things to keep an eye on tonight in the preseason opener.

The running back spot.  One of the best positional battles in camp. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are all battling for four or five spots. While Green-Ellis and Woodhead likely have secured positions on the 53-man roster, how many snaps will the others get? Faulk and Vereen don’t figure to play that much because of injuries (Vereen tweaked his hamstring earlier in camp, while Faulk continues to get back up to speed after last year’s knee injury), so Thursday could present a real opportunity for Ridley and Morris to make a statement. Ridley has shown a nice burst in the early going, but it’s important to remember that Morris is the only one at the position who has some experience as a fullback. It's not clear that will be enough to keep him on the roster, but it’s certainly a point in his favor.

The Boston Globe gives us five things to watch for tonight.

1. Where’s Mayo? Jerod Mayo has become one of the game’s standout linebackers by being the man in the middle of the Patriots’ defense. But the early indications are the Patriots want Brandon Spikes (who is injured) to fill that role, with Mayo as more of a playmaker on the outside. Keep an eye on where he plays.