TAMPA — For the first time on Friday, a member of the Patriots organization addressed why the team released defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene this week.
Based on the comments by team president Jonathan Kraft during his usual pregame chat on 98.5 The Sports Hub, the team blames Fanene for not disclosing his problems with arthritis when he signed in March.
“With anybody, when they join your team, we give them a bunch of entrance questionnaires,” Kraft said. “Think about when you go to your doctor’s office for the first time and you’ve got to fill out a bunch of questions, there’s a ton of things related to physical condition, medications you’re taking, a bunch of different things, and when you’re done filling it out — and this is before you get your physical — because there are just some things that aren’t going to come up in even a thorough physical.
“So the idea is you need to disclose everything that’s going on with your personal situation, and then you sign it, and it’s a legal document. And if somebody isn’t completely upfront with everything that’s going on there, and eventually that leads to them not being able to perform . . . you have a situation where it’s probably best to part ways.
“The NFL just in the last week or two created the designation, which is ‘released/failure to disclose conditions’ or something like that, and I think this situation falls into that category. And it’s one thing if a player comes in, performs as he’s asked to do, and develops a serious injury in that line of duty. That happens all the time, and you see your obligations through, but in cases where somebody may not have been completely accurate upfront, I think it leads to a different situation and this probably falls into this category more than the other one.”
When asked if the situation with Fanene was an isolated one, Kraft demurred.
“I’m going to reserve my words,’’ he said. “But I think there is a level here of implied trust and honesty, in any transaction in the NFL, because . . . you need full disclosure of anything that’s going on with them physically or mentally, and if they’re taking any type of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, supplements.
“There was a situation with another player on our team a couple of years ago [Brandon Spikes] where if we had known about a certain prescription drug he was taking, which he was fully entitled to be doing because it was prescribed by a doctor, we would have filed the right paperwork with the league. We weren’t able to do that because it wasn’t disclosed. The player is a great guy, he was a rookie, he just didn’t know and we dealt with a suspension because of that.
“But with a veteran player, if there are things to disclose you’d like to think they’d be upfront and do it so that they can get the proper care and advice from the team.”
The Patriots signed Fanene to a three-year deal that included $3.85 million in guaranteed money; the team did use the “failure to disclose physical condition” designation in releasing him, making it possible to go after some or all of that bonus money.
Fanene had arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee Thursday.
Mallett draws praise
When asked about the performance of specific players during the Patriots’ 30-28 loss to the Buccaneers on Friday night, coach Bill Belichick only had positive words for one: Ryan Mallett.
The second-year player took over at quarterback when the Patriots pulled Tom Brady after three quarters and finished 7 of 13 for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought he did a good job with the opportunities he had,” Belichick said. “The game had gotten out of hand at that point [when Mallett entered], but he did what he could.”
Belichick noted the play Mallett made on fourth and 1 during the second scoring drive. Coming off the two-minute warning, Mallett found Donte’ Stallworth for a 10-yard gain, keeping what became a 12-play drive alive.
Among the missing
Wide receivers Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney sat out, as did defensive backs Patrick Chung and Josh Barrett.
Gaffney injured his right quadriceps Aug. 15 and has not practiced since. Welker, on the other hand, had been present for every practice until Thursday. As the Patriots and Buccaneers held a light workout Thursday, Welker watched from the sideline wearing a T-shirt.
On a positive note, Logan Mankins was in his customary spot at left guard, though he wasn’t there for long, his night ending in the first quarter.
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who has practiced for just a couple of days, was in uniform and took part in warm-ups, but was not with the rest of the starters on the offensive line when the Patriots took the field.
Chung suffered a shoulder injury in Monday’s loss to the Eagles. It’s unknown what sidelined Barrett.
Tight end Daniel Fells, fullback Spencer Larsen, and rookies Alfonzo Dennard and Jeff Demps made their Patriots debuts . . . At least five players were treated by the medical staff: Nick McDonald (right arm), Shane Vereen (right leg), Larsen (right lower leg), Steve Gregory (right quadriceps), and Kyle Arrington (right leg).Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.