New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Bill Belichick on Welker, Mankins and more

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick answered questions from reporters this morning at Gillette Stadium (9 a.m.) prior to the teams first practice of training camp. Belichick touched on a number of subjects including the Logan Mankins holdout, health of Wes Welker, and release of linebacker Shawn Crable.

When asked about disgruntled offensive lineman Logan Mankins (who is not under contract, and was not present at practice), Belichick stated: “All the players that are here are under contract. Logan’s not under contract.” Nick Kaczur shifted over to take Mankins place at left guard in the morning practice.

Belichick was asked why linebacker Shawn Crable, the Patriots third-round draft pick in 2008 was released Wednesday. “We didn’t feel like he was ready to compete and participate right now,” he responded, adding that the team failed him on his physical. Belichick did not rule out a return by Crable in the future, but the failed physical resulted in his release yesterday.

Belichick talked about wide receiver Wes Welker’s rehab and return from surgery to repair a torn left ACL and MCL. His comments reflect the teams cautious approach in handling Welker’s recovery. “It’s a long rehab,” he said. “You go through different stages of it. … I think the last 10 to 20 percent of those injuries is the hardest part to get back. So we’ll see how it goes.” Welker remains on the active/physically unable to perform list and was not present for the morning portion of practice.

The Patriots will be doing something differently than they have in past training camps by holding joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints later in camp. Belichick spoke about that change for the Patriots this season, “I think it starts with just having a real good relationship with both organizations, with Tom [Dimitroff] and Mike [Smith] down in Atlanta and Sean [Payton] and Mickey [Loomis] down at New Orleans. I spent quite a bit of time with Shawn at the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season and Thomas, of course, and Mike Smith. We’ve talked about that from time to time, not just this year, but it just worked out. We’re playing them early in the preseason and right away we talked about it as something we would want to do that would be beneficial.”

Sam Aiken, Ron Brace, Derrick Burgess, Wes Welker, Darnell Jenkins, and holdout Logan Mankins were not present for the morning portion of practice. The Patriots get back on the practice field for the afternoon session from 3:45 till 5:30.

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