A fresh outlook for Mankins

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Now in his seventh season with the New England Patriots, All-Pro guard Logan Mankins has proved to be tough, durable and one who doesn't sugarcoat what's on his mind. Thursday was no different.

Mankins was on the practice field for the first time since training camp began, his one-on-one battles against powerful defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth a highlight of the session. Then afterward, he talked about the often-explosive contract-related issues that have been a big part of his past 16 months with the club.

What came to the fore is that, unlike last year at this time, Mankins has accepted the cards that have been dealt to him, whether he likes them or not.

So there will be no more trade demands and no more public salvos fired at the Patriots organization. Mankins has ended that fight, going out of his way to point out that his relationship with owner Robert Kraft is in a good place. He wanted to make it clear that he never called Kraft a liar and that he had only pointed out that he had been told Kraft would address his contract situation in an uncapped 2010 season.

When that didn't happen in a way Mankins felt was fair, he became upset. But he said the two have talked numerous times in the past year-plus. They were seen shaking hands on the practice field Wednesday.

Some might say Mankins is in a better place now, although Mankins himself wouldn't go that far Thursday, a sign that he is still disappointed about not having experienced unrestricted free agency this late in his career.

Yet he realizes he can do little about it, so he has accepted it and is attempting to move on.

Surely, a $10.1 million contract for the 2011 season -- which is the franchise-tag figure for offensive linemen -- helps make that decision a bit easier.

"This year, I'm putting everything behind me," he said. "I'm going to try to have a good year and help the team, and if I play good, things will take care of themselves."

Mankins left open the possibility that he could sign a long-term contract with the Patriots, saying that he has talked with coaches and ownership and that everyone is on the same page. But he didn't sound overly optimistic. When asked whether this was the place he hoped to sign an extension, Mankins noted his "great memories" and how much he likes his teammates before saying, "I understand it's a business more now than ever, so we'll see what happens."

If the sides can't strike a deal by Sept. 20, the deadline for franchise players to reach an extension, Mankins must finish the year on his one-year, $10.1 million tendered contract.

Mankins could have withheld his services in hopes of pushing for a long-term deal this year, but he said bluntly, "I figured I'm getting paid a lot of money this year, I should put in a full year."

In taking that approach, Mankins eliminated a potential distraction not only for the Patriots but also for himself. He admitted that the contract issue was draining at times.

Now he can focus solely on football, and when it comes to that part of the job, Mankins is all-in, an A-plus teammate. It doesn't take long when watching him to see his passion for the game shine through.

"I'm just happy to be back out here," Mankins said after Thursday's practice. "I was here for a week and had to just go to meetings, which was the most boring thing ever. So I'm happy to be out here practicing again, and hopefully I can contribute and help the team. It's always good to be back."

Back for how much longer remains a question, but for now, Mankins and the Patriots are taking a short-term view.
Mankins doesn't have to like it, but he has accepted it. It's time to move on.

Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.