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Why all six players cut by Patriots on Tuesday could eventually end up back in Foxboro

08.27.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Jemea Thomas

Jemea Thomas

Just because a player is cut by the Patriots doesn’t mean they still can’t have a career in New England.

All six of the players who were released by the Patriots on Tuesday have practice squad eligibility: defensive lineman Ben Bass, defensive back Travis Hawkins, wide receiver Derrick Johnson, linebacker Deontae Skinner, defensive back Jemea Thomas and wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser were all cut loose by New England on Tuesday. However, they can all be added to the p-squad following the final series of cuts later this month, provided they pass through waivers.

Chances are better this year than in years’ past that players who are released by the team could find their way back via the practice squad, as the practice squad rosters have been expanded from eight to 10 for the 2014 season.

The two players they placed on injured reserve — running back Tyler Gaffney and linebacker Cameron Gordon — do not have practice squad eligibility, as they were placed on IR.

Read More: Ben Bass, Cameron Gordon, Deontae Skinner, Derrick Johnson

With Logan Mankins gone, what now for Patriots offensive line?

08.26.14 at 10:53 pm ET
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Could Josh Kline be the replacement for the departed Logan Mankins? (Getty Images)

Could Josh Kline be the replacement for the departed Logan Mankins? (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In the space of 10 months, the Patriots have lost their longtime offensive line coach to retirement and their heart-and-soul offensive line captain to NFL economics.

The question now is, what will the Patriots do without Dante Scarnecchia and Logan Mankins? Part of that question has already been answered as new offensive line coach Dave Duglielmo has had a full spring and summer with the players he hopes will keep Tom Brady clean, healthy and upright all season.

But the second part of that equation is a big TBD.

Ask Nate Solder and he has no doubt that Duglielmo, Bill Belichick will find an answer from those offensive linemen left behind in the Patriots locker room.

“We have a lot of guys with a lot of good experience, like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer and there’s a whole list of guys who know what they’re doing. We can definitely get by,” Solder said.

Obviously, the Patriots are looking for much more than just getting by when it comes to keeping No. 12 upright. They’re not looking for the next Pro Bowler per se, but rather someone who will give them consistent play from the left guard position that they’ve gotten for the past nine seasons from Mankins.

And while Connolly and Wendell could be options at left guard, there are other names to consider who could step in immediately. Jordan Devey, Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon. All three have played the interior line at some point in their time in New England, with Devey and Kline getting the most reps during games while Cannon has played primarily tackle, filling in at right tackle last season when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a season-ending broken leg.

Then, late in the season, against the Ravens in Baltimore, Belichick provided some possible foreshadowing of life without Mankins at left guard. With Solder out with a concussion, the team shifted Mankins to left tackle. It was the 24-year-old Kline who filled in for Mankins at left guard, making his first career NFL start.

Whoever gets the call at left guard, Solder is completely confident that he can help lead the new group into the 2014 season.

“A ton of confidence,” Solder said. “Those guys work so hard and they’re awesome people. I have a ton of confidence. That’s why they’re here. The way I kind of view leadership is to do my job the best that I can. If that influences people, I hope it does, but that’s kind of the role I see myself in.”

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Jordan Devey, Josh Kline, Logan Mankins

Mike Petraglia breaks down trade of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay for Tim Wright

08.26.14 at 9:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia breaks down the details of a blockbuster trade that sends six-time Pro Bowl starting left guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for second-year tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick.

Read More: Logan Mankins, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tim Wright

Devin McCourty on Logan Mankins: ‘Don’t know if [you] get that type of teammate ever again’

08.26.14 at 6:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For those Patriots who played with Logan Mankins, Tuesday was harder than any offseason or training camp practice they’ve had this season.

After their first practice without the six-time Pro Bowl left guard, they came off the field and had to face the reality that the business side of the NFL and the Patriots had hit home. Mankins’ locker was in tact along with some team equipment but his teammates were left to answer questions about his sudden departure to Tampa Bay.

“He’s the type of guy you don’t know if get that type of teammate ever again,” safety Devin McCourty said. “He’s a tough guy. The different injuries he’s played through, being out there every snap, every chance he could get. When I got here, he wasn’t at here at first because he was home and he missed first couple of games. He came back and you could see the difference up front in how everybody played. He went to the Pro Bowl in a half-year. I think that just spoke volumes about a guy who you just see his leadership stand out as soon as he steps on the field.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s a guy you look up to, and I’m a defensive back and that’s watching the offensive line. Tampa is going to get one helluva player, and guy.”

McCourty the player then spoke like McCourty a team captain.

“There are some things you can’t control. You just accept,” he added. “It’s tough, it’s tough. You just tell yourself, and it starts the older guys on the team, you have to go out there and play. You can’t just sit there and sulk or be disappointed in your mind. You just have to go out there and play and make sure the younger and go about it and play and follow your lead. That’s the way I looked at today.

“This time of year is difficult. When we have 90 guys, whether it’s a guy like Travis Hawkins, in my room every day asking me a bunch of questions, working his tail off. Coach says it every year, this is a tough time for everybody. Coaches don’t like making these decisions. This one felt a little bit more because of the type of player Logan was and how long he’s been here.”

Mankins is gone to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round pick. Matthew Slater is another Patriots player who, like Mankins, has served as a captain before. He admitted that once the team was informed by Bill Belichick of the trade before practice Tuesday, it was tough going about business.

“It is difficult,” Slater said. “You know a guy for a number of years, you get to know his family, his kids, and that makes it tough. There is always a human element involved. We signed up to do a job here, and we understand what that job entails, and we understand what comes along with that, but at the same time, you can’t separate yourself from the human element, and the emotions and feelings that come along with it.

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Logan Mankins, Matthew Slater, Nate Solder

Patriots unveil series of roster moves to get down to 75-man limit

08.26.14 at 4:57 pm ET
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The Patriots announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday to meet the mandatory NFL cutdown to a 75-man roster.

Travis Hawkins

Travis Hawkins

They released six players: defensive lineman Ben Bass, defensive back Travis Hawkins, wide receiver Derrick Johnson, linebacker Deontae Skinner, defensive back Jemea Thomas and wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser. They also placed running back Tyler Gaffney and linebacker Cameron Gordon on injured reserve.

Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves:

Bass, 24, was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for DB Justin Green on August 15, 2014. He originally joined the Cowboys in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder spent most of the 2012 season on the Cowboys’€™ practice squad before being activated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 13, 2013. Bass appeared in two games as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 1, 2012. He went to training camp with the Cowboys in 2013 but was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season.

Hawkins, 23, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Delaware on May 12, 2014. Hawkins transferred to Delaware after two seasons at Maryland. The 5-10, 195-pounder, had 66 total tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defensed last season and was named first-team all-conference in 2013.

Johnson, 22, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Maine on May 19, 2014. He was released by the Patriots on June 9, 2014, and then re-signed on July 18, 2014. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder tied for the team lead with 60 receptions for 608 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. Johnson finished his college career with 116 receptions for 1,165 yards and four touchdowns.

Skinner, 23, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State on May 12, 2014. He was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder first earned a starting position at linebacker as a sophomore in 2011.

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Read More: Ben Bass, Cameron Gordon, Deontae Skinner, Derrick Johnson

Bill Belichick: ‘Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player’

08.26.14 at 3:56 pm ET
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The Patriots have confirmed the trade of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay, and they released a statement from coach Bill Belichick on the move.

“€œLogan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player. It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program. He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached. Logan brought a quiet but unmistakable presence and leadership that will be impossible to duplicate. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made — and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make — but like every other decision it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Logan Mankins,

A brief look at new Patriots TE Tim Wright

08.26.14 at 3:48 pm ET
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Tight end Tim Wright (81) is the newest passing option for Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Tight end Tim Wright (81) is the newest passing option for Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Along with acquiring a fourth-round draft pick when they traded Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers on Tuesday, the Patriots also received second-year tight end Tim Wright.

Wright, who played at Rutgers as a receiver, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buccaneers following last year’s draft.

While at Rutgers he played for head coach Greg Schiano in 2011 and also last year in Tampa. (It should be noted Schiano has been around Bill Belichick and the Patriots quite a bit this year, including at the combine and at a few training camp practices.)

In his two seasons at Rutgers, Wright caught 50 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns, including 39 catches for 449 yards as a senior in 2012. After going undrafted, he signed with the Buccaneers roughly 30 minutes after the 2013 draft.

This will be a reunion for Wright on two fronts. He played with current Patriots safety Duron Harmon at Rutgers and he played with Darrelle Revis at Tampa Bay in 2013.

“Well, it was a little different because he was a receiver at the time,” Harmon told WEEI.com. “So the work we got going against another was limited, with him being a receiver but I can tell you he works hard, works his craft every day and wants to get better. That’s definitely a plus, and I think it really helped him last year when he made the switch to tight end. Really his hard work allowed him to have some success last year.

“He has good speed and he’s quick as well. He definitely will be a mismatch on some players.”

There’s one other skill Wright possesses.

“He was a team barber at one point,” Harmon recalled. “I don’t have to worry about going all the way to Rhode Island to get a hair cut. Just go to him.”

Revis isn’t looking forward to a trim but rather being reunited with an undrafted free agent of 2013 who showed serious skill as a tight end.

“We were teammates last year in Tampa and he’s great,” Revis said. “He started for us down in Tampa Bay when I was there last year and we’re getting a solid player who can catch and who can run and run great routes. He was a wide receiver coming in and they switched him to tight end so he has a lot of speed at the tight end position.”

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Read More: Greg Schiano, Logan Mankins, Patriots, Tim Wright
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