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Patriots notebook

Mankins added to active roster; Wheatley is released

By Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 7, 2010

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CLEVELAND — The Patriots are ready to make offensive guard Logan Mankins earn his money.

Just days after Mankins returned to the team and signed his restricted free agent tender offer, the Patriots added him to the 53-man roster yesterday.

To make room on the roster, cornerback Terrence Wheatley was cut.

Mankins signed his tender offer Tuesday and has been practicing with the first team all week in preparation for today’s game against the Browns. He is expected to move back to his left guard spot between tackle Matt Light and center Dan Koppen, relieving Dan Connolly, who handled the duties in Mankins’s absence.

With the return of Mankins, the Patriots get back a Pro Bowl guard as they look to improve on their 6-1 record, the best in the NFL. Mankins has not missed an NFL game he has been eligible for since he was drafted by the Patriots in the first round in 2005. Before this season, he had started all 80 regular-season games and all nine postseason games.

On Friday, coach Bill Belichick said he wanted to see how Mankins felt after a couple of days of practice in full pads before making any decisions.

Injuries plagued Wheatley in his time with the Patriots, who drafted him in the second round in 2008.

In his rookie season, a wrist injury ended his campaign. Last year, a preseason knee injury limited his chances to compete, and this preseason he broke a bone in his foot and was not able to return to practice until the week following the bye.

Chung out again
Safety Patrick Chung was downgraded to out for the second straight game because of the knee injury he sustained against the Chargers Oct. 24 . . . Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie was granted his request to be released from the practice squad, according to a league source. McKenzie, who is in his second season, was trying to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster a year after a torn ACL ended his rookie season. McKenzie was a third-round pick in 2009 out of South Florida. McKenzie appeared to be healthier this preseason but didn’t see many snaps and eventually was released and signed to the practice squad. The league source said another AFC East team has expressed interest in the 6-2, 245-pounder.

Watson in good spot
Tight end Benjamin Watson began his NFL career as a Patriot and has rejuvenated it as a Brown. Watson leads the Browns with 336 receiving yards on 30 catches. He also has two touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland, where he signed as a free agent this year.

The numbers are more than Watson put up in all of 2008 (22 catches, 209 yards) with the Patriots and approach his total from last season (29 catches, 404 yards). The Patriots drafted Watson in the first round in 2004.

“He’s been great,’’ Browns coach Eric Mangini said. “I knew Ben pretty well from my time [in New England]. He’s such a good guy and a good teammate, and that was a priority in getting those guys as free agents.

“And then he gives us something in terms of his ability to stretch the field vertically, and I think he has done a good job blocking as well.’’

“It would be good to see him and catch up,’’ said Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. “You’ve got to be happy for him. He’s gone over there and done a great job.’’

We meet again
Backup Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer grew up a fan of the Browns, getting the chance to attend a number of games with his parents. Around that time, Belichick was the Browns’ head man.

“I don’t remember much about him coaching, but I remember he was the coach,’’ Hoyer said. “Last year when I knew I was coming here, it was kind of a cool experience because how often do you get to go play for the coach who coached your favorite team as a kid?’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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