Hopefully, Logan Mankins understood the irony.
After years of making fun of teammates who were coming back from injuries, Mankins was the one who needed extra time to get well this year.
After tearing his ACL at some point last year, his first significant injury, the Patriots left guard practiced for the first time Sunday.
“In years past, I was always one of the guys that made fun of the guys that got hurt,” Mankins said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “Now I got put in that position. I always felt like we were here to do a job, so you should be out there practicing and playing. The first few weeks of camp were tough not to be out there, but it was something that had to be done.”
Mankins hadn’t even missed a practice prior to last year’s knee injury, which came in his seventh year in the league. And as evidence of his toughness (or willingness to play along with coach Bill Belichick), he wouldn’t even say when he injured his knee, saying only that it “happened a long time ago, a lot longer than you would have thought it happened.”
But he never had an MRI or many tests during the season, and never indicated anything was wrong as he continued to play. He didn’t get those tests until after the season, and said he was surprised to find out the extent of the damage.
“It wasn’t 100 percent, but it was still functional,” Mankins said. “Put a brace on, tape an aspirin to it and go. . . .
“I could still run, so there was no reason to sit out. There were no MRIs or anything, so we never knew what exactly was hurt. If you can still run and play, there’s no reason to go see a doctor, right?”
It’s easy to hail Mankins’ toughness, and it’s great that he was willing to tape it up for the team. At the same time, players have to understand that the team ultimately doesn’t care if they do or don’t, because they’ll only get the chance to play through the pain if they’re still performing at a high level. As soon as they’re not, they’ll be former players, limping around on their own dime.