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FOXBOROUGH — Defensive end Chandler Jones and left guard Logan Mankins were asked after practice Saturday if they expect to return to the field Monday night. They gave much different answers.
“I’m ready to play against the Texans,” Jones said.
Offered Mankins: “When I’m healthy, I’ll come back, whether it’s this week, next week, the following week. It’s up to my body when I’m going to play again.”
Both players, who are listed as questionable, have been dealing with ankle injuries, with Jones getting injured against the Colts Nov. 18, Mankins the week before against the Bills. Mankins has also battled a calf injury, and has missed three straight games, and five of the past six.
Both returned to practice Wednesday, giving hope that they might be able to go Monday.
Mankins didn’t sound so sure.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “Still limited, just trying to do as much as we can. Can’t do everything yet, so I guess we might find out Monday. I don’t know.”
Prior to this season, Mankins had been as healthy as an offensive lineman could ever expect, missing just one game because of injury over his first seven seasons.
“Yeah, it’s been tough, but it is what it is and you learn to deal with it,” Mankins said. “I’ve been pretty fortunate most of my career, so I guess it happens to everyone sooner or later.”
Mankins said the will is certainly there. The body has the final say, though.
“Some injuries you can play through, some restrict your ability to play, so when it restricts your ability and you can’t play, you’re just going to hurt your team if you get beat all the time,” Mankins said.
Jones backed off slightly after his initial enthusiasm when asked if he’s expecting to play.
“That’s a coach’s decision — whatever he says, that’s what we’re going to do,” Jones said.
Overall, the injury report is pretty similar to those from recent weeks. Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) is out. Eleven players in addition to Jones and Mankins are questionable, including Dan Connolly (back), Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), Brandon Spikes (knee/ankle), and Kyle Love (knee).
Dad has to work
The world found out Friday morning that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen had welcomed a daughter, Vivian Lake, Wednesday night, but the quarterback didn’t miss much in terms of preparation for the Texans.
“He was like an hour late coming in [Thursday], but otherwise [there was no effect],” said coach Bill Belichick. “I think he’s right on top of everything like he usually is.
“As far as his preparation, we met and went over their scheme and their players and the adjustments and things we expect the Texans to do and so forth, and he seemed right on top of it to me, like he usually is.”
The game against Houston is the Patriots’ only Monday night game this season. Last year, they played two: the season opener against Miami and a blowout November win over the Chiefs. The Patriots have won four straight Monday night games, their last loss coming in New Orleans in 2009 . . . Saturday marked the 32-year anniversary of a Monday night game the Patriots played at Miami, which the Dolphins won in overtime, 16-13. That game is infamous for the on-air news that was delivered by Howard Cosell when he announced that John Lennon had been shot and killed.