Mankins added to active roster; Wheatley is released
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.
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.’’
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.