Following the first of two LeGarrette Blount rushing scores on Sunday, the New England Patriots took a deep breath as standout left guard Logan Mankins left the field with assistance from the training staff due to an ankle injury that, at least at first blush, looked to leave him in significant pain.
He would go the locker room for further evaluation, oftentimes a sign of an injury that will cause a player to sit out the rest of the game.
But just one series later (after Josh Kline filled in for him), Mankins was back on the field, surprising even his head coach Bill Belichick.
"When [head trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, right after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that," Belichick said on Monday morning. "But he's a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough."
Following the game, quarterback Tom Brady paid the ultimate compliment to Mankins' toughness, which was highlighted during the 2011 season, one that Mankins played through an ACL tear suffered in the first week of the regular season.
"There’s nobody tougher than Logan Mankins, so you know when he's getting helped up, you know he’s not feeling good, but he fought through it," Brady said. "There’s nobody that I’ve ever played with that is as tough as him. He’s right up there -- Matt Light was so tough, [Joe] Andruzzi, but Logan is second to none."
"I agree with Tom, in terms of toughness," Belichick added. "I've coached a lot of tough guys, but I don't think there's any I'd put ahead of him. There are some on that level, but not ahead. And any time Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it's something serious."
Kline would finish off the game for Mankins, most likely because the game was out of reach with the Patriots up by 14 points late in the fourth quarter.
Mankins' status going forward will be an area to monitor leading up to the team's divisional round playoff game, but for now Belichick was unable to offer any other information on the injury.
"I don't really have any information about going forward," he said. "That's always a part of the approach in the game process, we'll see how that all plays out."
"But I just can't say enough about the performance he gave us yesterday," Belichick added.