Kraft credits pre-lockout planning for signings

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Kraft credits pre-lockout planning for signings

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO -- The Patriots probably could have done without the whole Logan Mankins mess since 2009. He wanted to stay; they wanted him to stay . . . it could have gotten done. But the Patriots were adhering to some self-imposed rules over the past couple of years and fiscal tightness was one of them. Patriots owner Robert Kraft alluded to the strategy on Wednesday when discussing Mankins. "Logan Mankins will be signed up soon, hopefully to be a Patriot for life," he began. "That couldnt have happened if we didnt do our planning before we went into the lockout so I just want you to know that that has been done with a lot of thought and a lot of planning and we hope to have a lot of fun down here in Foxborough."There's no question the looming lockout and the uncapped yearhad been major considerations for the Patriots front office going back to 2008.Long-term deals taking players through the lockout weren't really executed until last summer when the team signed Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Stephen Gostkowski.And once the lockout was settled, it was clear the time was perfect to get Mankins' deal done.The relative buying spree the team's been on in the past two weeks is, if Kraft is being interpreted correctly, part of a bigger plan. "Like I tried to explain to you, you cant sign everyone you want, so you need to plan and I think we did our planning knowing the kind of environment we were coming into and we tried to position ourselves so we had our core veterans and we could continue to sign the people we want to sign," Kraft stated. We very much think that Logan is among the best there is at his position. We drafted him and we want him here. "Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

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Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old. 

Over the last seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.

In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores. 

"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."

A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"

Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means. 

Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks. 

Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

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Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took to the practice field behind Gillette Stadium on Friday with all but one player. 

Wideout Danny Amendola was the only player not present at the session. Newly-acquired receiver Griff Whalen was present and wearing No. 14. 

Safety Jordan Richards was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12. Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Elandon Roberts (hamstring), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot) were all limited in practice on Thursday, but were on the field Friday.