Remember that Logan Mankins guy? The pro bowl left guard? The guy that's been very limited due to injuries so far this year?

Yeah, he's still not coming back this week.

However, some other notable Patriots returned to the practice field.

Both tackle Sebastian Vollmer and guard Dan Connolly were back on the grass practice field at Gillette Stadium during the media portion of Thursday's session. Vollmer (back/knee) and Connolly (back) missed Wednesday's practice.

It seems silly to write a story on the impressive way the depth players have stepped up on this offensive line. Because it happens every year. Last year, when Dan Koppen went down in the first game of the season, the Patriots didn't miss a beat. Meanwhile, when Nick Mangold missed a few games for the Jets - it was like the end of the world. With Sebastian Vollmer missing time last year, it was the rookie Nate Solder who made you forget about it. The year before, when Logan Mankins was missing for the first 10 weeks, Dan Connolly filled in admirably.

This year? It's been just about everyone going down. Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer the most notable and frequent. Thankfully, the offensive lineman that were so much maligned in the preseason, haven't made you notice.

The Patriots have only given up once sack in the last four games.

Even Marcus Cannon, who I thought deserved to get cut for the way he played in the preseason, filled in great on Thanksgiving for Sebastian Vollmer.

Of course, a lot of the credit goes to offensive line coach, Dante Scarnecchia. He always has whoever is on the roster ready to play. In preseason, when Solder and Cannon were getting killed by fans and the media, Dante came to their defense. I turns out all that experimenting and preseason playing time may have really helped these guys.

"When you talk about those players and the roles that they play on this team, and the contributions that they've made, I don't think you can talk about them without mentioning Dante," McDaniels said. "He does an incredible job of preparing all of them as if they're all going to start and play for four quarters."

Part of that preparation, McDaniels said, consisted of allowing Thomas, McDonald and others to see playing time at multiple positions in the preseason.

"They've all played center, whether it's practice or preseason games, (in addition to) both guard spots on either side, where the communication gets flipped around. I think there's a tremendous amount of value in that alone," McDaniels said.

I pretty much feel confident with whatever body the Patriots end up putting out there. Don't you?

Michael Saver 11/29/2012 01:43:00 PM Edit

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