That must have been a serious week of practice.
Patriots left guard Logan Mankins will be activated for Sunday's game against the Browns. Mankins went through just three practices during his first week back with the team, with only one of those practices in full pads.
In a similarly surprising move, the Patriots will release third-year cornerback Terrence Wheatley to make room on the 53-man roster. Wheatley has only been active once this season, and he has struggled mightily since his 2008 rookie season was cut short due to injury.
The Patriots were given a two-week roster exemption for Mankins, which meant he wouldn’t count against the 53-man roster until they decided to activate him, or until that exemption expired after next week's game in Pittsburgh.
Head coach Bill Belichick said Friday that the Patriots would have to be absolutely sure Mankins would be ready to contribute if they decided to activate him before the exemption expired. This could be a sign that Mankins will start — or at least see some legitimate playing time — Sunday against the Browns. And if Mankins struggles, Dan Connolly has been solid in his place through seven games.
Wheatley got off to a hot start as a rookie, but has been seriously derailed by injuries. The Colorado product has been active for just 12 games in two-plus seasons — six in 2008, five in 2009, once in 2010 — and he had fallen to the bottom of the depth chart at cornerback.
However, the Patriots now have a surplus of guards, which is what really made Wheatley's release surprising. Connolly has been the starter at left guard, and Stephen Neal has remained at right guard. The Patriots also have Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger; Quinn Ojinnaka can play guard too. With the surplus of interior linemen on the roster, it really speaks to how far Wheatley had fallen in the eyes of the coaching staff.
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