2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots hoping for return of two key players

By MATTHEW CARROLL - Associated Press
    2012-12-08 17:18

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - With six straight victories and their fourth consecutive AFC East title already wrapped up, the New England Patriots are playing perhaps their best football of the season.

And a large chunk of their recent run has come without two of their top players.

So, imagine the big boost the Patriots will receive from having one of their best players on each side of the ball return for what is being billed as the game of the year.

After practicing in a limited capacity all week, starting left guard Logan Mankins and standout rookie right defensive end Chandler Jones are both listed as questionable for Monday night's much-hyped matchup against the first-place Houston Texans (11-1), a game with major playoff ramifications for both teams.

``Just got out there a little bit this week and tried to move around. We'll see where it goes from today,'' said Mankins, who injured his ankle in the second half of New England's victory over Buffalo on Nov. 11 and has missed the last three games. ``We were just trying to do as much as we can. I can't do everything yet, so I guess we might find out Monday.''

Jones, the 21st overall selection in the draft and considered by many to still be a top candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with six sacks, skipped the last two games with an ankle injury suffered during the first quarter of the Patriots (9-3) win over Indianapolis on Nov. 18.

His status, he said, rests in the hands of coach Bill Belichick.

``Ready to play against the Texans,'' Jones said. ``We went out there and we won a championship and I wasn't out there. But I'm still thankful to be a part of this team.''

Mankins, a four-time Pro Bowl player, has missed five games this season with various ailments, the second-most of his eight-year career.

``It's been a couple games here and then miss a couple and then a couple here, miss a few. It's just one of those years I can't get on track yet,'' he said. ``Every game you want to be out there, you just got to wait until you're ready to get out there.''

The pair couldn't have picked a more perfect time to return, either.

Despite playing a pivotal part in the Patriots' top-ranked offense and valiantly protecting quarterback Tom Brady amid constant change due to injuries, the Patriots offensive line certainly will be bolstered with Mankins out there as they prepare to face their stiffest test of the season.

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt is wreaking havoc on just about every opposing offense he's faced thus far. The second-year standout ranks second in the league with 16 1/2 sacks and has knocked down 15 passes this year.

Watt's sensational season also has overshadowed the strong play of defensive end Antonio Smith, who has five sacks of his own, along with Watt forming one of the most feared pass rushes in the league.

``He's a guy that's getting overlooked down there,'' Mankins said. ``J.J. Watt's getting a lot of attention deservedly, but Antonio Smith's a very good player. He's a slippery guy inside that has good quickness, good power and he really understands how to work blockers, so he does a good job.

``They get ahead and teams have to start throwing it to catch back up, so that plays right into their strength. They're a great pass-rushing team.''

Houston boasts a strong offense, too. In fact, quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson have combined to lead the league's second-highest scoring attack - behind only New England - making Jones' return all the more important.

``They have a great offensive line, they have great wide receivers and they're quarterback's good,'' Jones said. ``Our job is just to bottle those guys up and eliminate the big play.''

Mankins' extended absence has been somewhat of a surprise, though.

Last season he played through a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, something he admitted during training camp this offseason, moments before acknowledging his extremely high pain threshold. So, playing in just more than half of New England's games this year may point more to the severity of the injury.

``There's some injuries you can play through, some restrict your ability to play,'' Mankins explained. ``When it restricts your ability, you can't play. You're just going to hurt the team if you just get beat all the time.

``It's been tough,'' he added. ``But it is what it is. You learn to deal with it. I've been pretty fortunate most of my career. I guess it happens to everyone sooner or later.''?

Of course, Mankins wants to suit up. However, he won't jeopardize the rest of the season to play in a game on Monday night, against one of the best teams in the league, with possible postseason seeding on the line.

``When I'm healthy, I'll come back,'' he said. ``Whether it's this week, next week, the following week, it's up to my body when I'm going to play again.''

Jones, on the other hand, seems ready to roll for his first career Monday night game, and the Patriots lone one this season.

``It's a primetime game. You know, Monday Night Football, you grew up watching Monday Night Football,'' he said. ``And for the Patriots to have the opportunity to go out there and showcase our talent on a Monday Night Football game, that's a great opportunity.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group