Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

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Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The return of Logan Mankins was the highlight of Bill Belichicks Tuesday conference call. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots coach was happy to have his Pro-Bowl guard back.

"It's good to have him back on the team," Belichick said. "He's part of the team now; he's reported. He's been a tough, smart, dependable player. He's done all those things since he's been here and you can't have too many guys like that on your football team. So we're glad he's back."

When asked if the Patriots had a roster exemption following Mankins' return he replied that the transaction wouldnt be turned in until later in the day. "But I would expect it though, yes," the coach concluded.

As for how the team plans to proceed with playing time, Belichick said he was dealing with the situation "day to day." He made it clear that the team sees no point in dwelling on Mankinss holdout and just wants to move forward.

"I don't want to get into any of that. It doesn't matter; he's here. We're getting ready for Cleveland . . . got a big game on Sunday, so we're getting ready for that. I don't want to rehash anything that's happened in the past."

The coach was quite complimentary of the Browns. He was less focused on Cleveland's overall 2-5 record than its 30-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Week 7.

"Cleveland is a real physical team; tough, hard-nosed running football team," Belichick said. "They're tough on defense, good in the kicking game. Got some good young players who have stepped up. They don't give up a lot of points. Peyton Hillis has done a good job for them, running the ball, breaking tackles, keeping them in short-yard situations."

It sounds like Hillis is a running back the Patriots will have to key on in particular.

"He's a big physical runner . . . a tough kid who breaks a lot of tackles," Belichick said. "They use him on all three downs. He's in there in sub situations as well. He knows where the goal line is . . . doesn't lose a lot of yardage. He's been impressive."

Who Hillis will be getting the ball from, of course, is not certain. Browns coach Eric Mangini still hasn't picked a starter now going into Week 9. But whether his team faces rookie Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme, Belichick seems as unfazed about Cleveland's quarterback quandary as he was last week with Minnesotas FavreJackson toss-up.

"All the players that are on the roster and eligible to play we'll prepare for," he stated.

Game planning for tight end Benjamin Watson, who was with the Patriots until March of 2010, should be interesting. Belichick said he's definitely happy to see his former player do well with another team. With one minor caveat, of course.

"As long as it's not against us on Sunday. He's a guy who did a good job for us and he's doing a good job in Cleveland."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Patriots training camp: Who will be this year's Zach Sudfeld?

Patriots training camp: Who will be this year's Zach Sudfeld?

Mike Giardi and Phil Perry continue their Countdown to Camp as they discuss several story lines that we will hear a lot of.

Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

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Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

The Jets don't have to play the Patriots during the first four weeks of the season, but they'll be watching as their division rivals go to work with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center. 

Jets head coach Todd Bowles is expecting more of the same from New England despite Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

"Garoppolo can play," Bowles told the New York Daily News. "They don't worry about who they have. They just have a system in place and they go play football. I think people underestimate that. You still have to knock off the champs. It's theirs until somebody takes it from them."

The Patriots haven't had a quarterback other than Brady take snaps of consequence since Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Garoppolo is still a relative unknown given his 31 total pass attempts over the last two years, but with coach Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, and Belichick's system still in place, Bowles is assuming the Patriots will be a very good team once again -- even without their best player for the first month of the season. 

"They got a good team," Bowles said. "It's not just us. It's everybody. We split 1-1 (against them last year). They're a tough team. They're a tough out. They've had a coach and a quarterback and a system in place for a long time. There's a bunch of ways to skin a cat. They've found pretty good ways to skin it. They do what they have to."