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Saturday, July 23, 2011
Top interior OLs reside in AFC East

By Mike Reiss

USA Today continues its positional series of top players in the NFL, focusing on interior offensive linemen. The top two spots belong to linemen in the AFC East -- Jets center Nick Mangold is No. 1, while Patriots guard Logan Mankins is No. 2.

As part of the piece, the importance of Mangold's role is highlighted while including a Patriots twist: How Mangold matches up with players such as Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

Because the Jets don't consistently double-team Wilfork -- trusting Mangold in a one-on-one situation -- it allows them to release guards to help double-team on the edge.

"I always look forward to playing the Patriots and getting Vince (Wilfork)," Mangold says of his battles with the 325-pound Pro Bowl nose tackle. "You know you'll be there for 60 minutes-plus."

Meanwhile, Mankins edges Saints guard Jahri Evans as the top guard. Evans is slotted at No. 3.