Patriots’ protection plan likely includes Kaczur at guard

Restricted free agent Logan Mankins didn’t hide his dissatisfaction with the state of his negotiations with the Patriots Tuesday when he said he wants to be traded and doesn’t “need to be here any more.” Mankins skipped the start of the Patriots’ three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday, although it’s technically not required since he’s not under contract.

So let’s presume, for a moment, that Mankins has seen his last days as a Patriot. How does the team replace the two-time Pro Bowler who has started every game over the last five seasons?

The answer likely starts with RTĀ Nick Kaczur, who filled in at left guard during Tuesday’s practice, as he has throughout the offseason, according to Patriots.com. All of Kaczur’s experience is at tackle — he has 62 career NFL starts — but the Patriots preach versatility along the line, and have given him reps at guard in the past. The shift of Kaczur opens up the starting spot at right tackle for 2009 second-round pick Sebastian Vollmer, who started the final four games there (including playoffs) last season. The versatileĀ Dan Connolly — who also rotated at left guard — could also figure to be in the mix.

If Mankins stays true to his word, it’s a decent bet this is how the Patriots’ line looks heading into the season.

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