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Belichick confirms return of Mankins

11.02.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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The Patriots confirmed that guard Logan Mankins has returned to the team. While there has not yet been a roster move to add Mankins, head coach Bill Belichick said that he expected that move to take place today.

“It’€™s good to have him back with the team. He’€™s part of the team now,” Belichick said in a conference call, praising the two-time Pro Bowler for his toughness, intelligence and dependability. “You just can’€™t have too many guys like that on your football team. We’€™re glad he’€™s back.”

Asked about Mankins’ physical condition, Belichick suggested only that the team would treat the offensive lineman on a “day-to-day” basis. The Patriots head coach declined to discuss the degree to which he had been in touch with Mankins during his holdout.

“I don’€™t want to get into any of that. it doesn’€™t matter right now,” said Belichick. “We have a big game on Sunday. That’€™s where our focus is. I don’€™t want to rehash anything that’€™s happened in the past. That’€™s all behind us.”

Mankins had held out for the first eight weeks of the season, but he will return for the duration of the season in order to earn the necessary service time to qualify for unrestricted free agency following this season.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio,

What does the return of Logan Mankins mean for the Patriots?

11.02.10 at 12:47 am ET
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With the news that Logan Mankins will reportedly return to the Patriots this week ‘€” two weeks earlier than the Nov. 16 deadline for him to gain the full year accrued toward free agency ‘€” here are five quick thoughts on what it all means:

1. How much can he contribute for the rest of the 2010 season? Mankins has missed all of the spring practices, organized team activities, minicamps, training camp, the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season. While initial reports indicated he could technically play as early as next week against the Steelers, any expectations should be minimal for at least the next couple of weeks because of the amount of time he has missed.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has said on several occasions that you cannot get into football shape by running around a track ‘€” there is no substitute for being on the field and getting reps in practices and games. As a result, don’€™t expect to see Mankins on the field until the end of the month (Thanksgiving against Detroit?) at the absolute earliest as the Patriots try and get him as many reps as possible.

2. Even with his lengthy absence, Mankins remains a popular figure in the New England locker room. When he strolls back into Gillette Stadium this week, it shouldn’€™t be an awkward situation as has been the case with many other holdout situations. But once he gets up to speed, how soon does he get on the field?

Mankins, a two-time Pro Bowler, certainly faces an uphill challenge to try and unseat the man who replaced him in Dan Connolly. Connolly has done a more than adequate job stepping into the starting spot at left guard, considering he was the Patriots third choice at the position, behind Mankins and Nick Kaczur, the latter of whom struggled with a back injury and was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the season. In addition to his work on the offensive line, Connolly has also drawn raves from Belichick for his play on special teams as well as his work at fullback.

“We have asked Dan to do a lot,’€ Belichick said Monday when he was asked about Connolly’€™s progress. ‘€œHe has played left guard obviously, but has also played fullback in our short-yardage and goal-line packages. [He'€™s a] smart guy. [He'€™s a] good technique player. He has really improved a lot over the time he has been here. He has gotten a lot of playing time this year and has continued to improve. So he is doing a solid job.”
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Jahri Evans

Schefter: Mankins will report and sign tender Tuesday

11.01.10 at 10:25 pm ET
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Patriots left guard Logan Mankins will report to the Patriots and sign his $1.54 million tender Tuesday, according to ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter.

A two-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro, he was the first-round pick of the Patriots in 2005. However, Mankins is a restricted free agent who has steered clear of Foxboro since spring workouts because of his contract status.

Mankins, who has played five years in the league, would have been an unrestricted free agent under the rules of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement. But when the owners opted out of the old deal, that meant only players with six seasons of professional experience in the NFL were granted unrestricted status.

By signing now, Mankins assures himself a chance at becoming an unrestricted free agent ‘€” he had a deadline of Nov. 16 to sign his tender and report by in order to accrue the service time he’€™ll need to reach unrestricted free agency next year.

He was reportedly close to signing a new deal earlier this season, but according to Schefter, the deal fell apart because the Patriots requested that Mankins apologize for remarks that were critical of the Patriots.

If Mankins does indeed report this week, it would put an end to one of the most contentious holdouts in franchise history. The lineman requested a trade in June, telling ESPN Boston that the Patriots weren’€™t true to their word when it came to a new deal.

‘€œAfter the 2008 season, me and my agent approached the Patriots about an extension and I was told that Mr. Kraft did not want to do an extension because of the [uncertain collective bargaining agreement],’€ Mankins said at the time. ‘€œI was asked to play ‘€˜09 out, and that they would address the contract during the uncapped year. I’€™m a team player, I took them at their word, and I felt I played out an undervalued contract.

‘€œThat’€™s the big thing,’€ he continued. ‘€œRight now, this is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on. Apparently, I was wrong. Growing up, I was taught a man’€™s word is his bond. Obviously this isn’€™t the case with the Patriots.’€

In Mankins’€™ absence, the Patriots have gone with Dan Connolly since the start of the 2010 season. On Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of Connolly through the first seven games of the season.

‘€œWe have asked Dan to do a lot. He has played left guard obviously, but has also played fullback in our short-yardage and goal-line packages,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œ[He'€™s a] smart guy. [He'€™s a] good technique player. He has really improved a lot over the time he has been here. He has gotten a lot of playing time this year and has continued to improve. So he is doing a solid job.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dan Connolly, Logan Mankins,

Browns, Mangini undecided on QB vs. Patriots

11.01.10 at 9:07 pm ET
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Browns head coach Eric Mangini told reporters in Cleveland that he is unsure who will be starting on Sunday against the Patriots. The Browns are coming off a bye week. Rookie Colt McCoy started Cleveland’s last two games, remaining poised in a loss to the Steelers and then helping the Browns to upset the Saints two weeks ago.

His starts came as a result of injuries to the top two quarterbacks on the Browns’ depth chart. Jake Delhomme was injured in the opening game of the season. His replacement, Seneca Wallace, was sidelined in a Week 5 loss to the Falcons due to an ankle sprain. Wallace completed 63 percent of his passes and had an 88.5 QB Rating prior to the injury. McCoy has completed 65.3 percent of passes, with a 76.5 QB rating.

“I’ve been pleased with what Colt has done, but I was pleased with what Seneca had done as well,” Mangini told reporters. “That’s a good situation, where you have two guys that it’s not like either guy went in and you’re looking for the next alternative.”

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Read More: Cleveland Browns, colt mccoy, Eric Mangini, jake delhomme

Vikes and agent for Randy Moss confirm the two will part ways

11.01.10 at 8:22 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The situation involving Randy Moss and the Vikings came to an end Monday night, as both Moss’s agent and Minnesota coach Brad Childress confirmed the report the Vikings will part ways with the receiver.

In a statement issued by the team, Childress confirmed the move: ‘€œThis decision was made based on what we thought was in the best interests of the Minnesota Vikings, both in the short and long term. We wish Randy the best as he moves forward in his career.’€

This news comes on the heels of a report from Moss’€™s agent Joel Segal, who informed The Associated Press late Monday that the lack of news on Moss’€™ release was ‘€œmerely a technical thing’€ despite the team not officially filing the paperwork with the NFL. Segal also informed the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Monday that the receiver was ‘€œvery sad’€ about being waived by the Vikings.

‘€œRandy is very sad to find out about being waived by the Vikings this morning,’€ Segal said in an e-mail. ‘€œHe has and always will remain fond of the fans in Minnesota. We will let the process of the waiver wire take its course and we will move on from there.’€

The news ends a typically bizarre 24 hours for the receiver. On the heels of his melancholy press conference after Sunday’€™s game where he talked about how much he missed playing for the Patriots and took the coaching staff on his new team to task, the wide receiver was reportedly waived by Minnesota on Monday, with Childress breaking the news to his players in a Monday meeting.

However, Moss wasn’€™t present at the meeting, having not flown back to Minnesota with the team after Sunday’€™s game in Foxboro. In addition, as of late Monday afternoon, Moss reportedly hadn’€™t been informed by Childress that he had been cut. Making the story even more bizarre was the news that the NFL waiver wire indicated that as of Monday, Moss had not yet been placed on waivers.

Once Moss is officially placed on waivers, teams would have 24 hours to claim the receiver, with the team that has the worst record getting first crack at landing the receiver. The Patriots, who at 6-1 have the best record in the NFL, will have the last chance to claim him.

Read More: brad childress, Randy Moss,

WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

11.01.10 at 8:20 pm ET
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A new team reigns supreme in this week’s edition of the WEEI.com NFL Power Rankings. Riding a five-game winning streak and holding sole possession of the best record in football, Tom Brady and the Patriots climb to No. 1 in the rankings.

The AFC still dominates at the top of the rankings. The Steelers, Ravens, Colts and Jets round out the Fantastic Five.

After another bizarre week in the NFL in which we saw the Jets held scoreless at home, Donovan McNabb benched in favor of Rex Grossman to run the two-minute drill and Brett Favre taken off the field in a cart, nothing seems more peculiar than the news of Randy Moss being waived by the Vikings. Following the Vikings’ loss and the sense that head coach Brad Childress has lost all respect in his team’s locker room, Minnesota plunges to No. 19.

Two other notable teams that started the season ranked high are currently in the bottom of the barrel, with the Dallas Cowboys (No. 30) and the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 24) scraping new lows.

1. (Last week, 3) 6-1 The news for the Patriots got even better this week with reports emerging that Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins will return to the team on Tuesday. The Patriots are looking more and more like the team we saw dominate the past decade. They’re an extremely disciplined team that doesn’t commit many penalties and rarely turns the ball over. They rank at the top of the league in both of those categories. Bill Belichick‘s young defense seems to be improving and gaining confidence each week. Jerod Mayo leads the league with 86 tackles.

2. (1) 5-2 Overall, a loss to the defending champs on the road isn’t too much to worry about for Steelers fans. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense still don’t look 100 percent comfortable. They probably need a few more games to get on the same page. In the loss to the Saints, New Orleans was able to get pressure and confuse “Big Ben” all game.

3. (4) 5-2 The Ravens benefit from the bye week in more ways than one. Not only did Joe Flacco and company enjoy some needed rest but they also moved into first place in the AFC North after the Steelers fell to the Saints.

4. (5) 5-2 Peyton Manning continues to impress. No. 18 has shown time and time again that he can get the job done no matter what personnel makes up his receiving corps. On defense, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are nightmares for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks.

5. (2) 5-2 The Jets should have some serious concerns about their offense. Coming off an extra week of preparation, the Jets offense was horrendous. Since starting his first five games with zero interceptions, Mark Sanchez has thrown four interceptions in his last two games. At the same time, Sanchez got no help from his receivers, who dropped nine passes.

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Read More: NFL Power Rankings,

Belichick: ‘If the moon were made of Swiss cheese….’

11.01.10 at 8:00 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots coach Bill Belichick was noncommittal when it came to discussing the Randy Moss situation in his Monday afternoon press conference. When asked if Minnesota had called an asked for its third-round pick back ‘€” the Vikings shipped a third-rounder to the Patriots in exchange for Moss on Oct. 6 ‘€” Belichick wasn’t biting.

“You know I can’€™t comment on the status of any of the other players in the league or any other transactions or anything like that,” Belichick said. “You can’€™t bait me into it; I can’€™t comment on anybody else’€™s teams or players or transactions.”

When asked about a hypothetical as to whether or not the Patriots might put in a claim for their former receiver, Belichick smiled.

“If the moon were made of Swiss cheese…” he responded.

Here’s the rest of Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium:

BB: How are we doing today? Good win yesterday. It was certainly a lot better in the second half than it was in the first, but, you know, [the Minnesota Vikings] are a good football team. They have a lot of talented players. They gave us some problems. We gave them a few, and in the end, we were just able to make a few more plays, certainly in the red area, third-down conversions. I mean, that last drive, offensively, was a big drive for us. We had a lot of guys step up and play well; it is hard to single anybody out when you have a game like that. There were a lot of people that contributed to it, so that was good. It is time to turn a page and move onto Cleveland. After watching them against New Orleans, it is a pretty formidable group they’€™ve got, so we have a lot of work to do. I know they got a jump on us in terms of preparation with their bye week, so we have a lot of catching up to do.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Randy Moss,
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