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Logan Mankins & the fine line

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There was an exchange in today's Bill Belichick news conference that, in this view, highlighted how Belichick draws a firm line between on-field and off-field business.

The topic was offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who earned a Pro Bowl berth despite missing the first seven games of the season.

Belichick was asked about Mankins' impact on the team since his return to action Nov. 7, and he began gushing.

"He's been outstanding, on and off the field," Belichick said. "He brings a great attitude and work ethic, superior toughness to the field and to the football team and that unit. Just an outstanding performer, a smart guy who doesn't make any mistakes, plays hard, run/pass, every down, from the snap to the whistle, from the first play to the last play. Very consistent player. Always has been. He's shown that this year; it doesn't matter whether it's a Friday practice or the fourth quarter or the first play of the game, he's very, very consistent. And good. Very good."

A follow-up question was then asked, something along the lines of, "How could the team possibly let a player like that get away as a free agent?"

Belichick re-directed the discussion at that point.

"Right now, it's just about getting ready for Miami," he responded. "There are a lot of other things we can talk about, but none of them apply at this particular time."