It’s officially July, and that means two very important things about football. The good news is that Training Camp is less than a month away. The bad news is that football hype is about reach the usual summer low, but that lack of action does not mean that WTB? Is taking the month off. Throughout the month, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the key players with the Buccaneers.
A player’s career is not made in a snapshot of the time they spend with a single team, and I’ll be looking at what some have gone through to bring them to Tampa Bay. Rookie spotlights are always fun because of the simple fact that they’re new and still unknown, but some of the veterans in Tampa Bay have taken some interesting paths on their way here. We know where they are, but where have they been?
Veteran Spotlight: Logan Mankins, Guard, 11 Years Experience
To start off our Veteran Spotlight, we’re looking at Logan Mankins. The former Patriot is not only one of the most experienced players on the team, but he’s also the oldest. Mankins may be viewed as someone near the end of his career, but his final years look to be just as effective as his early years. He’s been a stud for over a decade, and that’s not about to change overnight.
West Coast Beginnings
Logan’s career spans all the way back to the last millennia when he competed with the Mariposa Grizzlies at Mariposa County High School in, you guessed it, Mariposa, California. After graduating in 2000, he walked out as an All-League performer and the team MVP.
Logan didn’t waste any time in moving on to bigger and better pastures, as he joined the Fresno State Bulldogs for his collegiate career. In 2001, he started at left tackle as a redshirt freshman and protected quarterback David Carr. You might (just might) recognize Carr as the first quarterback of the Houston Texans. Believe it or not, Carr has a Super Bowl ring thanks to being Eli Manning’s backup at the opportune moment.
In that first season of play, Mankins only allowed two sacks. He was named to the Freshman All-American Team by Sporting News and quickly launched himself onto the Outland Trophy watch list in his second year. After a solid sophomore outing and 28-straight starts, Logan Mankins tore his ACL in preseason practices before his junior year.
Not one to be deterred, Mankins returned in his senior season to start every single game, and he didn’t allow a single pressure all season. Mankins recorded a school record 82 knockdown blocks in 2004, and he rounded out his collegiate career by being the first offensive lineman in school history to win the team’s MVP award.
Ready, Set, Dynasty
In 2004, the New England Patriots were riding high. The talk of the town was that New England was officially an NFL Dynasty. With three Super Bowl wins in their last four seasons, it was hard to argue the fact. In February of 2005, they had Joe Andruzzi, their current left guard, depart in free agency. With him gone, New England looked to the draft to fill the hole.
With the final pick of the first round, the Patriots selected Fresno State Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins. With Andruzzi gone, Mankins entered and immediately started at left guard for New England. Walking into a team with such a recent record of success has to be a dream come true, and Mankins fit in immediately. The quiet mentality of New England fit him, and he did his job well.
Over the next several years, Logan would carve out a reputation as one of the best left guards in the entire league. On top of protecting Tom Brady consistently, his accomplishments are numerous. Six-time pro-bowler, including in his last five consecutive seasons in New England. Ranked in the league’s Top 100 Players in his last three seasons. Not to mention assisting in New England winning the AFC Championship in 2007 and 2011.
Unfortunately, Logan Mankins was disregarded with horrendous timing. After entering New England the year after a string of Super Bowl victories, he also departed the year the Patriots finally won the Lombardi Trophy again. Even for a player with the resume of his caliber, that’s got to sting.
Welcome to the Bay
During his years with the Patriots, Logan Mankins never experienced a season of less than ten wins. Not one time. After being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only days before the start of the 2014 regular season, Mankins tried to settle into a chaotic situation. Not to even mention the Jeff Tedford Experiment and subsequent repercussions, Mankins injured his knee less than half an hour into his Bucs debut.
Despite the debacle that was last season, Logan Mankins has been positive in recent months about the upcoming year. There’s an obvious benefit of having time to heal and an entire offseason of workouts to get acclimated to the system. He’s also been making an impact as a leader, and you can’t deny the experience he brings. Even if he’s in a warmer climate, Logan is still a product of Bill Belichick.
The soft-spoken, lead by example mindset he has honed over the last decade will be invaluable on an offensive line in desperate need of solidarity. Logan has the pedigree to be that cornerstone, and Jameis Winston will be in dire straits without a line he can trust. It’s been a long road to bring Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay, and it’s gotten rocky in a hurry. Even with his career winding down, the Bucs have a huge asset with the 34-year-old veteran. If Jameis Winston has anything to say about it, Logan might even get that Super Bowl ring before he retires.