Free-agent center Mangold: Belichick isn't 'all that fond of me'

Free-agent center Mangold: Belichick isn't 'all that fond of me'

When the idea of playing for the Patriots was posed to Nick Mangold, the former Jets center had a hard time wrapping his head around the whole deal. 

"That would be awfully difficult," he told SiriusXM NFL radio. "I've got to assume that after years of all the battles that I’ve had with New England, I don’t think Bill’s all that fond of me."

Mangold is a free agent after he was cut by the Jets in February. He's still dealing with the lingering effects of an injured foot that forced him to miss half of last season. 

That Mangold assumes anyone in the Patriots organization -- and Bill Belichick in particular -- isn't head over heels for him makes sense. He spent 11 years with the rival Jets after they made him the No. 29 overall pick in 2006.

But what Belichick has said publicly about Mangold has been nothing but complimentary. 

"They do a good job," Belichick said of the Jets offensive line back in 2015. "Mangold is a really good center, a veteran player, smart. I’m sure he sets the table for everybody." 

In 2012, Belichick was asked about Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and referenced Mangold. "Those two guys are probably as good as we face," he admitted. 

The Patriots player who most often battled with Mangold was probably Vince Wilfork since Wilfork arrived to the league just two years before Mangold and then faced him twice a year in the division.

Whenever Mangold's name came up, Wilfork referenced just how difficult the 300-pound pivot made his job. 

"He’s probably the best, probably the best center, I believe," Wilfork said of Mangold in 2012. "I’ve been saying this ever since the guy’s been a rookie. He’s been pretty steady for them. And it hasn’t changed.

"Everything it seems like goes through him. The run game, he calls the plays on the line slides, he’s the guy in charge. That’s how it should be, because that’s their bread and butter. When they need a play, if they’re running the ball, it always seems to end up behind No. 74. He’s a big-time player for them, I give him all the respect in the world facing him numerous times."

The Patriots appear set at the center position with 2016 starter David Andrews returning and second-year player Ted Karras backing up. Mangold's probably not in the plans. 

But, judging by Belichick's comments on the record, it's not because he doesn't like him. 

Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion) back at Patriots practice Thursday

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Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion) back at Patriots practice Thursday

FOXBORO - The Patriots received some very good news on Thursday as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was back on the practice field in preparation for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Cannon did not participate in Wednesday's practice and he was listed as having an ankle injury and a concussion. That he was on the field a day later means that he has advanced to the point in the league's concussion protocol that he can participate in practice, but it's unclear what his availability will be for Sunday's game. 

Should Cannon be sidelined, the Patriots would likely go with Cameron Fleming (or LaAdrian Waddle) as their starter at right tackle. But if Cannon can go, the Patriots would certainly take him. The Texans defensive line will be among the most talented that New England sees all season. 

Missing from Thursday's practice were running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee). Burkhead missed Wednesday's session as well, casting some doubt on his availability for Sunday. 

Rob Gronkowski was at the start of practice for the second straight day. He participated in warmups and drills during the media-availability portion of Wednesday's practice but the team announced later in the day that he did not participate due to a groin injury suffered against the Saints. 
 

Brady-signed Goodell clown towel auctioned off for $6,500

Brady-signed Goodell clown towel auctioned off for $6,500

Perhaps this will finally close the book on Deflategate?

One of the Roger Goodell "clown" towels that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy had made for the Patriots' season-opener - this one signed by Tom Brady - fetched $6,500 at former Pats offensive lineman Matt Light's charity auction.

A spokeswoman for Light and his Light Foundation confirmed to the Boston Herald that the towel was sold at the live auction at the recent Matt Light Celebrity Shoot-Out. 

Portnoy, who paid $140,000 to have the towels made and distributed to fans at the Sept. 7 opener, wrote that he would've paid $10,000 to get the Brady-signed towel, which he called "My holy grail."

I would have gladly paid 10k to get my towel back.  Because this would legit be the best memorabilia piece I could ever own.  It would be the perfect final chapter in Deflategate to have this hanging on the wall of Barstool World HQ’s.   So while I think it’s really cool Brady signed the towel it just doesn’t feel right that I don’t own it.