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)."

Roger Goodell says he'll be present for Patriots opener at Gillette Stadium

Roger Goodell says he'll be present for Patriots opener at Gillette Stadium

PHOENIX -- Roger Goodell said during a press conference at the league meetings on Tuesday evening that he planned to attend the NFL's "kickoff game" next season, which is scheduled to be hosted by the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in September. 

Goodell has not visited Gillette Stadium since the AFC title game in January of 2015 -- the game during which Deflategate was sparked. Last season he opted to visit Atlanta for the Divisional and Championship rounds of the playoffs in back-to-back weeks. 

On Monday, Robert Kraft was asked if he anticipated Goodell visiting New England for his team's 2017 season-opener. 

"I think I'll let you all ask him that," Kraft said. "Look, he's the commissioner of the league. As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. If he wants to come, he's welcome to come. We're happy we'll be celebrating our fifth banner. He can decide if he wants to be there."

It appears as though he's decided to be there. 

Gasper: Butler-to-Saints 'makes the most sense for everybody'

Gasper: Butler-to-Saints 'makes the most sense for everybody'

Chris Gasper talks with Gary Tanguay about why he thinks Malcolm Butler going to the New Orleans Saints ultimately happens because it makes sense for both sides.