|New England hopes to get Mankins back for the playoffs. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
Patriots Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins injured his left knee during Saturday's game against the Dolphins, and on Tuesday sources told the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport that Mankins has a sprained MCL.
Mankins will miss New England's Week 17 matchup with Buffalo. It'll be the first game he's missed due to injury in his six-year NFL career; he sat out seven games to begin the 2010 season as part of a contract dispute. The Patriots need to beat the Bills to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss Sunday coupled with a Steelers win over the Browns and a Ravens loss to the Bengals would make Pittsburgh the AFC's No. 1 and the Patriots would drop to No. 2.
For now, though, the biggest issue is getting Mankins back for the postseason. He's the Patriots' best lineman and anchors a unit that has struggled at times this season to protect Tom Brady. Rapoport writes that Mankins will not need surgery, and he hopes to return to the lineup the weekend of January 14th (the Pats will have wild-card weekend off because they earned a bye) for the AFC Divisional game.
Mankins suffered the injury Saturday after his left knee collided with a helmet. He wanted to return to the game but head coach Bill Belichick kept him on the sidelines.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.