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Patriots notebook

Kraft: Mankins deal a ‘fib’

Laurence Maroney (right), who is hoping to get in rhythm on and off the field, chats with Darnell Jenkins. Laurence Maroney (right), who is hoping to get in rhythm on and off the field, chats with Darnell Jenkins. (Robert E. Klein/ for The Boston Globe)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / September 14, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — Patriots owner Robert Kraft stepped into the middle of the Logan Mankins contract situation yesterday.

Kraft made an impromptu appearance on WEEI to dispute a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Patriots and Mankins were close to a deal about two weeks ago, but it all fell apart after the Pro Bowl guard refused to make a public apology for comments in June about the organization.

“There is a misconception that we had a deal with Logan Mankins,’’ Kraft said. “We have never had a deal with Logan Mankins.’’

Kraft said he did speak to Mankins about three weeks ago, and the guard apologized for the comments he made in June to ESPNBoston.com that he was frustrated the Patriots did not keep their word in working out a contract with him after the 2009 season. Kraft said he accepted the apology.

“He said he regretted he did it,’’ Kraft said. “He knew in retrospect they weren’t true and I accepted his apology because he’s a very high quality guy. I also said, ‘Logan, it would be nice if that was made public because I’m hoping we do a deal with you and I don’t want people to think that the way you do a deal is to say something that is not true or involve ownership.’’

Schefter’s report stated that multiple sources confirmed that the deal was close and that 90 minutes after Mankins apologized to Kraft he was asked to make a public apology. Mankins refused, according to Schefter.

But Kraft said any talk of the sides having had a deal is a “bold-faced fib.’’

About ownership being involved in contracts, Kraft said, “We bless them,’’ but he said ownership doesn’t get involved in the actual negotiations.

Mankins has not signed a $3.26 million tender offer from the Patriots and has not participated in any offseason workouts or training camp.

Murrell released
The Patriots released linebacker Marques Murrell to make room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka, who was suspended for the season opener.

Murrell had one tackle in Sunday’s 38-24 victory over the Bengals. He played three seasons with the Jets before he signed with the Patriots in March.

Ojinnaka returned after serving the suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, which stemmed from his arrest for a domestic incident involving his wife in May 2009.

“I’m definitely happy it’s over with and to be able to concentrate on football,’’ he said. “It was hard watching the team play when you’re supposed to be out there.’’

The fourth-year player out of Syracuse was acquired from the Falcons last month for an undisclosed draft pick. He was not allowed to be at the team’s facility last week, spending the time weightlifting and doing cardio on his own, and watching film.

“They gave me stuff to get prepared for the Jets game because I knew I’d be back for that game,’’ Ojinnaka said.

Maroney reflects
Running back Laurence Maroney is in his fifth season, and Sunday was the first time he sat out the season opener. A thigh injury limited Maroney in practice leading up to the game, and he was inactive.

“It’s definitely a frustrating thing when you feel like you’ve had a good preseason and you just want to come out and help the team in any way possible, so it was one of those feelings where I was sick in the stomach,’’ Maroney said. “But at the same time I knew if I can’t give my team my all, I don’t want to just give them a small part. I really want to be all the way right before I get out there and do something worse.’’

Maroney’s fellow running backs accounted for 118 yards on 23 carries against the Bengals. Fred Taylor led the way with 71 yards on 14 carries.

Maroney said he is learning from Taylor.

“Every day is a learning experience with Fred,’’ Maroney said. “There’s no need to hate on this guy. We know we’re in position for each other’s job, but at the same time he’s been a lot of places and he has goals that I’m trying to get. So instead of being upset because he’s playing more than I’m playing, I’m trying to learn, because one day he’s going to go out and I can take what he taught me and it can help my career be better.’’

Maroney said he was close to being ready Sunday but “not close enough.’’ Watching the Patriots pull out a victory, “eased the pain,’’ he said, and he added that he is doing all he can to be active Sunday against the Jets.

Celebrating diversity
Tom Brady can feel the difference in the Patriots this season.

The quarterback said on WEEI that overall the offense played a strong game, especially the line.

“I felt as good as I’ve ever felt after an opening game, I’ll tell you that,’’ Brady said. “It was pretty remarkable what the guys up front did. I mean [Cincinnati’s] a good team.

“The challenging part about that defense is the way they rush the passer. I thought up front we played an incredible game. If we can keep playing like that, it’s going to be pretty tough on opposing defenses. That was a great start by the offensive line. The backs protected great, the tight ends protected great. We ran the ball. It’s a different team this year, I’m telling you. It’s a different team.’’

How so, specifically?

“There’s a lot of things,’’ Brady said. “There are three different tight ends that add different skill sets. That’s a big position in our offense. Fred Taylor, you saw the way he ran.

“He wasn’t out there a whole lot last year. So you add that with a bunch of other new additions, the defense and leadership and our attitude and a whole different take from everybody. I think really it’s been a good attitude this whole year. That’s what we’ve got to continue. That’s how you win games.’’

Brady said getting his contract sealed was a “huge relief.’’

“Just because, without a contract, you don’t know where you’re going to be in four or five months,’’ Brady said. “You always say, ‘There’s the franchise tag,’ but no one knows if there’s a franchise tag next year. And the franchise tag doesn’t work out so often.

“To actually know where I’m going to be is a huge relief more than the financial security. To know my kids can go to school here. My wife and I love it here, so there’s no place where we wanted to go. That’s the best part about it. Having the understanding that this is our home. This is where we want to be.’’

Shalise Manza-Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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