Mankins back to work, hoping to go in opener

Mankins back to work, hoping to go in opener

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - Ready for the Titans?

Logan Mankins wasn't ready to say that. But the Patriots Pro Bowl guard, who's appearance at practice Sunday night was a big hurdle in his return from ACL surgery, does appear to be ahead of schedule for the season opener in Tennessee.

Mankins had his surgery soon after the season ended. Sunday was his first practice action - albeit in shirts and shells - since the Super Bowl.

Mankins said he "knew something was wrong with (the right knee)" by the end of the season but said the extent of the damage "was a little surprising."

Mankins said, "I'm not gonna get into when it happened. It happened a long time ago. A lot longer than you would have thought it happened."

Makings also says he injured his left knee while playing left tackle for a short time last season.

That Mankins played with a tear in his ACL appeared to leave some media members aghast.

They weren't around when former Patriots corner Jimmy Hitchcock played for the team without ACLs. At all. So it's not routine but it's not entirely unheard of either. Especially in a non-skill position like offensive line that doesn't require sharp cutting.

"I could still run...," Mankins answered when asked why he continued to play with hurt knees.

Being on the exercise bike instead of the practice field was a weird switch, Mankins said.

"I've never been hurt really, so not being out at practice wasn't something I enjoyed very much," he admitted. "In years past I was always one of the guys that made fun of the guys that got hurt, now I got hurt. I always felt like we were here to do a job and you should be practicing and playing. But the first couple of weeks being hurt it was tough not to be out there.

Asked if he'll be ready for the opener, Mankins said, "I'd like to think I would be able to but I don't know.

"It's been a weird camp," Mankins allowed. "A lot of guys coming in for one day (on the offensive line) then they're getting hurt, it's been a lot of shuffling parts in there. I think there were a few practices we only had eight or nine guys, that's tough not having enough for two lines."

With Mankins edging closer to his return, the next prodigal guard may be Brian Waters. Asked when he expects Waters - who is on an excused absence - to come back, Mankins answered, "You know as much as I do. I don't know when he's coming. Or if he is. Or what's going on. That might be between him and Bill (Belichick)."

Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

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Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

FOXBORO -- Bryan Stork has had a whirlwind few days. 

On Wednesday, news broke that Stork had been informed of his release. Then before that move became official, the Patriots and Redskins worked out a trade to send the third-year center to Washington. After that, indications were that Stork was retiring, and the Redskins were unsure as to whether or not he would even report. 

Stork eventually made up his mind, tweeted that he was ready to start a new chapter in his career -- a tweet he has since deleted -- and made his way to the Redskins.

The latest update on Stork's saga is that he failed his physical and that his right have reverted back to the Patriots. When asked about the situation, Bill Belichick chose to wait on illuminating the media of his plans since the picture was still a bit hazy.

"I don’t know if that’s official," Belichick said of Stork's rights. "That sounds like the way it is going to go."

Asked if the Patriots would be releasing Stork, as they originally intended, Belichick replied, "Well, we’ll find out exactly what the story is and whenever that is we’ll make the best decision that we can."

Stay tuned.

Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

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Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

FOXBORO -- The Patriots saw two of their injured offensive linemen return to practice on Monday.

Both Jonathan Cooper (out since suffering a foot injury on July 30) and Shaq Mason (reported hand injury) were on the practice field for the team's warm-up period. The pair then headed down to a lower field to do some conditioning with others. 

Special teams ace Matthew Slater, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, running back Dion Lewis and tackle Sebastian Vollmer were missing from the session. Lewis and Vollmer remain on the physically unable to perform list and won't be prepared to begin the season Week 1. Grugier-Hill missed Friday's preseason game with the Panthers due to an absence.

New Patriots edge defender Barkevious Mingo was present for his first practice with the Patriots. He was wearing the No. 51 which was most recently worn by former defensive captain Jerod Mayo. 

Danny Amendola (PUP), Tre' Jackson (PUP), Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin and Malcolm Mitchell went down to the lower field for conditioning after warmups. Jabaal Sheard, who has dealt with a knee injury he suffered against the Saints in New England's first preseason game, remained with the team for drills after warming up. Also, Alan Branch, who was suspended by the Patriots for a week and reinstated late last week, was present at practice. 

Belichick on Knighton release: He worked hard, lost weight...just didn't work out

Belichick on Knighton release: He worked hard, lost weight...just didn't work out

FOXBORO -- Terrance Knighton wasn't released because he was out of shape. Listening to Bill Belichick over the course of the last few days, it sounds as though Knighton's primary issue was learning the two-gapping technique that the Patriots expect their defensive tackles to execute.

"It just didn't work out," Belichick said when asked about Knighton on Monday. "He came in, worked hard, lost weight, got in good condition, tried to do the things we asked him to do. Just other people ahead of him." 

After signing this offseason, Knighton worked diligently to get into the type of condition the Patriots expected from him. The team also set him up with an in-home chef in order to help him manage his diet.

While Knighton was conditioned well enough to practice and play with the Patriots, it seemed as though he was not able to anchor, take on blocks, shed, and react to ball-carriers in the way the Patriots desired. In the team's second preseason game, against the Bears, Knighton seemed to have some difficulty holding his ground and preventing Chicago's offensive linemen from moving him off of his spot. 

The Patriots opted to play younger defensive linemen, like rookies Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton, over Knighton against the Panthers on Friday.

"Some new techniques, some new things...different things than what he's used to doing," Belichick said when asked about Knighton after the game. "We played the younger guys tonight. We didn't get as much of a look at him as some other players. He played a little more last week. I think there's good competition at that position. We'll just have to see how it all plays out."

Knighton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this offseason and was guaranteed $250,000.