At Pro Bowl, Patriots players are taking it light and easy

By Pat Bigold
Globe Correspondent / January 30, 2011

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HONOLULU — It’s Pro Bowl day at Aloha Stadium for Bill Belichick and seven of his Patriots.

Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Devin McCourty, Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Meriweather will take the field tonight, with Belichick coaching the AFC.

Since 1971, the AFC and NFC are tied with 20 wins apiece, but the AFC won last year and has taken six of the last 10.

Light, the burly 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pound offensive tackle, doesn’t seem too concerned about winning or losing, he just hopes he doesn’t have to play receiver.

On Thursday, Light had his AFC teammates applauding and roaring with laughter when he made an over-the-head reception of a pass from Oakland punter Shane Lechler near the end of practice.

“It came down to skilled route running and obviously a well-delivered ball,’’ said Light, with mock seriousness. “And being a guy who hasn’t put his hands on anything that requires a skill position obviously made things difficult for me. But I was able to adapt and really become one with the play. We studied that all week. Obviously, Lechler has done that before and it wasn’t his first rodeo.’’

Asked if the play would be used in the Pro Bowl, Light said, “Oh, I hope not.’’

Coming off his 10th season as a Patriot, Light indicated he wants to remain one, if possible.

“I will be playing somewhere next year, but hopefully it will be New England,’’ said Light, who is headed into free agency.

Mankins, the other Patriot in Hawaii with an uncertain future, declined to talk about his status. Mankins has six years with the team, two as a Pro Bowl player.

Welker, who has a year left on his contract, said he is very happy with being a Patriot.

“I like to think I am a Patriots’ type of guy and I’m always into doing it the Patriot way, keep on working hard and keep doing my job,’’ he said.

Welker said he has come to terms with being forced to sit out the first series of the divisional playoff game against the Jets.

“It’s no big thing,’’ he said. “We moved past it, we moved on, and we’re out here in Hawaii. I’m content with where I’m at and hope to stay.’’

Light and Welker, both in their third Pro Bowl, joined first-timer Mayo and stars from other teams doing 90 minutes of manual labor Thursday, building a YMCA playground. It was part of an NFL community outreach program.

The Pro Bowl will be at Aloha Stadium next year, but the site of the 2013 game is up in the air.

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