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Patriots' Mankins: 'It was just time' to play football

Logan Mankins is finally ready to play football.

The New England Patriots' two-time Pro Bowl left guard ended his lengthy holdout Tuesday after skipping all of training camp, preseason and the first seven regular-season games.

"It was just time," Mankins said Wednesday. "I had my reasons for the date I came back but I'm not going to explain them to everyone."

Mankins' return ahead of the Patriots' Week 8 matchup with the Cleveland Browns likely had a lot to do with the fact that Mankins had to report by Nov. 16 in order to earn a sixth accrued season, thus allowing him to be a free agent this summer.

"I'm happy to be back, I got a lot of friends here, a lot of guys I got a lot of respect for and love playing with so it was good to see everyone again," Mankins said. "When I let a bunch of guys know the day before, everyone was pretty happy I was coming back so I knew I had a lot of support here."

Mankins, who wanted a contract extension, had stayed away since deciding not to sign the team's tender offer by June 14, the day before minicamp began.

"It's good to have him back on the team," coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday after meeting with Mankins. "He is a part of the team here now."

The original tender offer of $3.26 million was reduced to $1.54 million when he didn't sign. The team did not announce how much Mankins would be paid for the rest of the season.

Mankins was asked about how he balances his business principles with his desire to play football.

"It was tough but I don't really think about that stuff a lot I guess," Mankins said. "I do a little bit but you know, once you get in the routine of doing other things it kind of makes it easier. But I love football and wanted to be out there playing but we had some other things going on so, but now I'm back and ready to go."

The Patriots were granted a roster exemption until Monday for Mankins, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reports, citing a league source. They would then have to activate him and make a roster move.

The first step for Mankins will be to return to the practice field Wednesday.

"I've been training quite a bit so we'll see today how it goes, how good of shape I am in."

Quarterback Tom Brady was one person happy to see Mankins back in the Patriots locker room.

"It's great. He's such a great guy, he's a great player, he's coming in with a great attitude," Brady said. "I've had a chance to talk to him a little bit over the last few months, and he's been a great contributor to this team and this organization and can never have too many great football players, great teammates so it's great to have him back."

*The Associated Press contributed to this report. *

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