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Offensive line stands tall despite injuries

11/11/2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If there's one position on the New England Patriots where injuries hit frequently but seem to have little effect, it's the offense line.

In Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots lost both of their starting guards, Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly, to injuries, but their top-ranked offense kept churning.

In fact, quarterback Tom Brady was sacked only once in the game, on a third-and-5 play early in the third quarter, which also happened to be the play when Mankins injured his left ankle.

"We'll obviously have to watch the game and see how it all turns out, but there weren't a lot of problems, I know that," coach Bill Belichick said.

Belichick noted that the Patriots dressed one more offensive lineman than usual on Sunday, carrying eight. They needed the extra bodies, with right guard Dan Connolly leaving with a back injury late in the second quarter in addition to Mankins' injury.

Veteran Donald Thomas, who had filled in for Mankins at left guard the previous two games, slid in at right guard for Connolly, while Nick McDonald later stepped in for Mankins at left guard.

"That was obviously unexpected, but luckily they came through for us," Belichick said.

"You've got to come to the stadium ready to play," Thomas said. "You've got to be ready to go and another situation happened today where I had to step in and fill the void for somebody."

Mankins dealt with multiple knee injuries last season and has battled calf and hip injuries this season before hurting his ankle on Sunday. He limped around heavily on the sideline before heading to the locker room and was spotted after the game with a walking boot on his left foot, according to the Boston Herald.

The severity of Mankins' and Connolly's injuries isn't immediately known, but as they demonstrated on Sunday, the Patriots appear to have the depth along the offensive line to weather the storm both in the short and long term.

"That’s why everybody has to be ready," Belichick said. "You just never know when the bell's going to ring and both Nick and Donald answered it."