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Updated    12/05/10

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1999 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

Bruschi starts a bit early

By The Associated Press 8/3/99
SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi was so eager to begin the 1999 season, he started it early. Not due to report to Bryant College until last Friday, Bruschi returned to New England from his native Arizona a week early and arrived at training camp a day early to get an early jump on becoming acclimated to the daily routine.


    "I'm ready to go," said Bruschi, the fourth-year outside linebacker. "I came in a few days early here to tie up a few loose ends anyway, so I decided come here early to beat the crowds."


    Although it was an early trip to camp for Bruschi, it marked one of the rare times he has been in New England since last season. He was present at the June minicamp, but unlike many of his teammates, he chose not to attend the offseason conditioning program in Foxboro. Instead, he engaged in his own demanding regimen at the University of Arizona.

 
"I got some excellent work done there and my body's in tip-top shape," he said. "This is the best I've felt since my surgery after the Super Bowl year."


Being in good physical shape is important, for Bruschi has the opportunity to step up to a full-time starter's job.


With the departure of Todd Collins to the St. Louis Rams via free agency, Bruschi could take over his starting outside linebacker's job -- a position he manned over the last seven games of the regular season when injuries forced a shuffling of the Patriots' linebacking corps.


Bruschi finished with 81 tackles (56 solo stops), fourth on the team despite having spent more than half of the season as a situational pass-rusher. But for him to shed that role for good, he'll have to beat out highly-touted rookie Andy Katzenmoyer, the Patriots' second of two first-round draft picks.


Bruschi isn't the only one trying to win a different job, meanwhile. With Ferric Collons' release at defensive end, and the departures of Chris Canty (waived) and Willie Clay (salary cap casualty) in the secondary, the Patriots' defensive unit will have its work cut out for it.


"There are some rookies in there, but they aren't all just first- or second-year guys," he said. "I'm coming into my fourth year, some of the other guys on the defensive line are third-year and fourth-year, and they're sort-of seasoned and ready to go. So I don't anticipate much of a dropoff."


Bruschi is aware that the Patriots aren't highly regarded by national preseason publications, many of which pick them to finish fourth or fifth in the highly competitive AFC East. But he doesn't put much stock in such early predictions.


"Every year, there are two or three teams that nobody thought would do well, then all of a sudden they're first in their division and making a run at the Super Bowl," he said. "This year, we expect that to be us."


Bruschi believes the Patriots have enough pride in themselves to ignore the doomsayers and play at a high level.


"I can guarantee you this, we're going to play hard and our ultimate goal is to get to the big game," he said. "We want to play well and have a top-ranked defense.


"And all that aside, one of my main goals is to have some fun," he added. "Football is a fun game to play and I love to play it. My first emphasis is on winning, but I'm going to have some fun this year, too."

 

Bruschi watches their back; Pats may have found starter
KEVIN MANNIX
Boston Herald Saturday, August 7, 1999

 

SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- They're definitely in the minority, but neither Pats coach Pete Carroll nor linebacker Tedy Bruschi is surprised that Bruschi, the fourth-year former defensive end/pass rush specialist, has been such a solid full-time linebacker during training camp.

 

    From the first day in camp, Bruschi has been the recipient of a number of "attaboys" from the coaching staff and is clearly ahead of rookie Andy Katzenmoyer in the mano-a-mano to replace Todd Collins in the starting defensive unit.


    Because Katzenmoyer is a first-round draft pick and there is the obvious hole in the middle of the defense caused by the decision not to re-sign Collins, the Ohio State product has been a popular subject among the media. He still may overtake Bruschi for the starting spot next to Ted Johnson before the start of the regular season. Right now, however, Bruschi is clearly in control.


    "That's not a surprise to me at all," said the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Bruschi. "Todd getting hurt last year gave me the opportunity to play eight games at linebacker. That was really a blessing because I was able to gain experience and confidence.
    "I've been making steady progress and now I'm totally confident in my ability to play linebacker. I can look at you now and say that I'm a linebacker."


    Bruschi was a defensive end at Arizona and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, which goes to the top lineman in college football. When he was drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft by the Patriots, he came with 52 career sacks, tying Derrick Thomas' NCAA record.


    He remained a pass-rush specialist through his first season with the Pats, but when Carroll took over as head coach in 1997, Bruschi was moved to linebacker.


    "When I first got here, guys said Tedy couldn't play linebacker and work behind the line of scrimmage," Carroll said. "I didn't buy that. Right now he looks very much at home in that position. He can blitz from there and he has a lot of freedom to roam around and take advantage of his speed.


    "One of the reasons we (didn't re-sign) Todd Collins was because Tedy did such a good job while he was in there the last part of last year.

 

     Carroll obviously had some doubts about Bruschi being the long-term solution at linebacker since the team used a first-round pick on Katzenmoyer when they could have gone for a defensive or offensive lineman in that spot.


    "I would have done the same thing," Bruschi said. "Todd was gone, and while I showed them I could play there in the last seven or eight games, this is also the last year of my contract. They had to look out for themselves because they don't know what's going to happen with me after this year."


    If things don't work out contractually, the 6-3, 260-pound Katzenmoyer becomes the man in the middle beside Ted Johnson. "There is nothing he's done that doesn't show he's a very talented player," Carroll said of Katzenmoyer. "It's rare to find a guy his size who's as light on his feet as Andy is. He's as quick and fluid as anybody we have and he's also the biggest guy we have.


    "He's big, fast and strong and has a sense of pass coverage. He catches the ball really well, so he should be able to make big plays. I think everybody should be excited about what this guy brings."
 

FOOTBALL; PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK; Bruschi given defensive reins
RICH THOMPSON
Boston Heral Monday, August 9, 1999

SMITHFIELD, R.I. - The job of calling the Patriots defensive plays in the huddle has been passed from Ted to Tedy.


    With middle linebacker Ted Johnson expected to miss the next four months with a ruptured left biceps, veteran outside linebacker and designated pass rusher Tedy Bruschi will call the plays on the field. Johnson will be replaced in the middle of the Patriots defense by rookie Andy Katzenmoyer, a first-round pick (28th overall) out of Ohio State. Pete Carroll thinks Katzenmoyer is a fast learner. But Carroll would prefer an established player like Bruschi making command decisions on the field.


    "If Andy takes over for Ted in that spot as we would like, Tedy Bruschi will call the huddle and really take over all of those assignments," said Carroll. "We won't trust all that on Andy and Tedy is very capable of doing that. (Tedy) calls all our dime stuff now."


 

Silencing doubters at every turn

Photo By Ed Duckworth, New England Sports Service 8/25/99
SMITHFIELD -- Ever since he was a little kid, Tedy Bruschi has been listening respectfully to people who have described him as too small, too short, too this or too that to be a productive football player.


Fortunately, he never took any of it to heart.


If he had, Bruschi might never have been a star defensive tackle in high school or an All-American defensive end at Arizona, never mind a starting outside linebacker for the New England Patriots in this, his fourth NFL season.

 
"You've just got to ignore the negativity and focus on what it is you're being asked to do," the positive-thinking Bruschi said yesterday. "Everybody is entitled to his opinion, but just because they express something about somebody doesn't necessarily mean it's true."

 
In Bruschi's case, the skeptics began questioning whether he had the size to play at Roseville (Calif.) High School. By the time he got to the NFL as the Pats' third-round pick in the 1996 draft, the chorus had grown to biblical proportions.


There is no way, its members agreed, that a barely 6-foot-1, 245-pounder like Bruschi could have the height, strength or speed to be an effective pro linebacker.


That Bruschi had been an All-Northern California defensive tackle in high school and a spectacular defensive end who had equaled the NCAA's all-time sack record (52) at Arizona State didn't mean a thing to the naysayers.


"I had a lot to learn when I got here," recalled Bruschi, "so in a way it probably was just as well that Bill (Parcells) and his staff used me as a situational player at first, a guy who'd come off the bench on third down to put the pressure on quarterbacks."


"That was fine with me at the time, but I knew I really wanted to be a linebacker. What I lacked was experience. But I've been able to pick things up over the years, so I'm confident in almost any situation now."


Bo Pelini, the Pats' linebackers coach, was a defensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers when Bruschi was a college senior. He hasn't been the least bit surprised with the Bay City native's progress.


"We had scouted him intensely," Pelini said. "We didn't think there was any way he wouldn't be a good linebacker some day. Our problem was, the Patriots got to him first."

 
Although Bruschi is "a little short" for his position, Pelini believes his size of his heart more than compensates.

 
"He's 245 (pounds) and that's plenty big enough to handle anything," the coach said. "What's more important, though, is his motor. Tedy is the kind of guy who never stops hustling; he never takes no for an answer."

 
Bruschi, who rang up 8 sacks, forced 3 fumbles and had 41 tackles in his first two pro seasons, made his first start for the Pats in the second game of the 1997 campaign, after veteran Todd Collins twisted a knee.


He backed up Collins until the middle of last November when the veteran, now with St. Louis, suffered the torn chest muscle that ended his season and career with the Pats.

 
"I learned a lot from him," Bruschi said of Collins, "but there's no experience as valuable as the experience you get on the field. The fact I got to play some last year made the transition to starter easier for me."


Bruschi was credited with a career-high 81 tackles, 3 forced fumbles and 5 passes defensed in the seven games he started for the Pats last fall.


Despite that production, Bruschi wasn't guaranteed a starting job when the Pats checked into camp last month, because coach Pete Carroll planned to give first-round draft choice Andy Katzenmoyer of Ohio State a crash course at outside linebacker.


Carroll's thought was that if Katzenmoyer could do the job, he'd be starting alongside Ted Johnson and Chris Slade, restoring Bruschi to his old third-down, run-down-the-quarterback role.

 
When Johnson ruptured a biceps tendon in an intra-squad scrimmage three weeks ago, Katzenmoyer was moved to the middle and Bruschi went back to the top of the depth chart at his old outside linebacker spot.


Bruschi was sorry to see Johnson go down, but he can't help but think about how the competition between himself and Katzenmoyer might have gone if nobody had gotten hurt.

 
"It goes through my mind all the time," admitted Bruschi.

 
His confident smile left no doubt how Bruschi thought the battle would have wound up.

 

'BACKING EACH OTHER UP \ BRUSCHI, KATZENMOYER CALL THE PATRIOTS' DEFENSES

Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
August 25, 1999
Dick Cerasuolo

 PATS NOTES

 SMITHFIELD, R.I.  - At first, Tedy Bruschi and rookie Andy Katzenmoyer were in a battle for the same linebacking job. Now they're sharing a role.

They started preseason camp plugging away at the plugger - or weak-side linebacker - spot. But Ted Johnson's injury put Katzenmoyer in the middle, and it led the Patriots to give Bruschi the job of calling the defenses.

 Someone must have heard ex-Patriot middle linebacker Steve Nelson when he said you always get better when you're making the calls. Katzenmoyer is now calling the fronts.

 Bruschi calls the defense in the huddle, Katzenmoyer does the rest, and it apparently has helped because the rookie's performance against Dallas on Saturday night was much improved over his effort against Washington in the first exhibition game.

 "He's making all the front calls now," linebacker coach Bo Pelini said of the Ohio State product. "We have a veteran (Bruschi) calling the huddle. All he's doing is calling is the defense, though. As far as the front adjustments, Katzenmoyer is doing all of that."

 Pelini said Katzenmoyer is way ahead of where they'd expect him to be with that job.

 "Basically, he took it over only in the middle of last week. He has run with it," Pelini said. "We would have had him do it the first week, but he was only there three days. He wasn't ready to do that.

 "I agree, it helps to make the calls. It's just reiterating what you should know."

 Bruschi will continue to call the defense in the huddle because the coaches like the veteran presence there.

 "If Marty Moore came in to play the mike (middle), we'd still have Tedy call the huddle," Pelini said.

 Not only is coach Pete Carroll's toughest camp closing a day early, it is closing in mystery. Nobody - no media or fans - are allowed to watch today's final Bryant College workout from 9 to 11 a.m.

 Nobody can recollect a practice in camp being closed to both the public and the media.

 "I want to get us out of here as smoothly as I can," Carroll said. "We'll finish up the day and make sure that anything we want to do, we can do without any disruptions. It will be a real business day. The last day of camp can be like the last day of school - you know, people lighthearted about it. I want to make sure that we're on track."

 There had been two closed practices on the menu, but there will only be one.

 Maybe Carroll wants to try something unusual. Yesterday, he did have Larry Whigham and Tony Simmons working in tandem as kick returners, as well as Sean Morey and Lamont Warren.

 Pelini is a Bruschi fan. He'd just like him to be "maybe a little taller." But he says the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder, who has yet to prove he can take the season-long pounding or play the run consistently, "has a great understanding of the game as far as the mental approach."

 "I've played with guys a lot smaller (at Ohio State)," Pelini said. "He hasn't shown that size will limit him at all. He's more athletic than most pluggers, plus there's his pass-rush ability. To me, he's the perfect guy at that spot."

 The Patriots will see a new Warren Sapp when they travel to Tampa Bay for the third - and, really, the last - exhibition game on Saturday. This is the game where, realistically, all the final roster decisions are made.

 Sapp, one of the NFL's premier defensive tackles, blamed himself for the Buccaneers' fall from grace last year, saying the 8-8 season fell on him because he was "too slow, too fat. I was overweight. I wasn't even close to being able to make plays."

 Sapp, who played last season at what he said was "about 320 pounds," reported this season at 287. "I can chase people down again," he said.

 He missed last week's exhibition with a lower back strain but will play against the Patriots.

 Defensive tackle Henry Thomas will miss another Patriots exhibition game.

 "If anyone can do this, it's a guy like Henry that can jump in there and play in the gap without all the playing time behind him," Carroll said.

 Thomas, who tore a muscle in his right biceps, has not played in a single exhibition. Carroll said he might get some playing time in the preseason finale on Sept. 2 at Carolina.

 Is tight end no longer a cut-and-dried affair? Rod Rutledge, who was being praised a week ago by both the coach and the quarterback, has had drops in both exhibitions and two more in practice yesterday.

 Now, after saying he wanted Henry Lusk (a free-agent signee), Carroll said yesterday that Lusk is in a "critical spot" since the team is thinking about a fullback at that third tight-end spot. One of the fullbacks in the running is free agent Jamie Bowers out of Wabash.

 

PATS' TEDY BEARS DOWN ON KATZENMOYER, HIMSELF
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
September 14, 1999
Author: Dick Cerasuolo


FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi didn't want to take any bows and he didn't want to give rookie Andy Katzenmoyer a pat on the back.

 Maybe a shove, but no pat.

After being the designated blitzer for three years, Bruschi made his first start Sunday against the Jets and came up with a milestone performance. The linebacker had a career-high 12 tackles, including a half sack.

 He wasn't assessing his performance by the numbers, though. "I'm usually a little more critical of myself," Bruschi said. "I look at a stat like that, then I look at the film and think I could have gotten three or four more tackles. That's the way I look at that."

 What did he thing of Katzenmoyer's debut?

 GOOD FIRST START

 "It was fair," he said. "The guy did good for his first NFL start. I think he's got to step up his game to tell you the truth. We need him big time.

 "He can make plays all over the field with his athletic ability and size. There's no reason why he shouldn't be all over the place, and I want to see him all over the place."

 Bruschi's not afraid to tell him so, either.

 "How much have I been talking to him lately? Non stop. I'm trying to be on the kid 24 hours a day if I can, giving him a hard time, pushing him a little bit," Bruschi admitted. "I don't have time to wait for him. He's got to be with us right now.

 "Once the bullets start flying (game day), the kid's on his own out there. I've got to worry about myself then."

 'WASN'T BIG THING'

 And what about Bruschi's debut?

 "It wasn't a big thing," he said of his first start. Bruschi took over for the injured Todd Collins at strong-side linebacker with seven games to go last year. He had 10 tackles in three of those games, his previous career best. This year, it was his job from the start.

 "I've got to get the job done no matter what the situation is," said Bruschi, who is well aware there are doubters waiting to see how he'll hold up over a whole season.

 "I'm in there calling the signals," Bruschi said. "I've got a lot of control out there and I'm going in there to get the job done."

 So how did he rate his first start?

 "Good. There's room for improvement," he said. "I definitely think I could have done better. They (Jets) not only had a lot of different formations, they were shifting to another look (from them). They tried to throw us a curve ball."

 DISPELLED THEORY

 Bruschi hit it.

 "You don't want to see anyone go down for a season like Vinny (Testaverde) did, but you think you can step on them then. But then Tom Tupa's first pass was a touchdown that dispelled that theory."

 He didn't second guess the Jets' decision to keep passing with both Tupa and Rick Mirer. "If they kept trying to run, we were on top of their draws, their runs," Bruschi said. "Tupa used to tear us apart when he was on the scout team here ('96 and '97). He can run the bootleg, throw dash passes."

 Bruschi, obviously the glass-is-half-full type, isn't counting the Jets out just yet. "A lot of guys on their team can be down," he said. "We can't look at that. We have to worry about playing the Colts."

 Bruschi has been around long enough to know every week is a new life cycle - even for a team's fans. "Their fans started to boo them (Jets)," Bruschi said. Life is precarious at the top.

 GOOD DEBUT

 "I heard Edgerrin James had a big game," he said of the Colts' rookie back. "I saw he had 112 yards (on 26 carries). That's a good debut. I'm sure 112 in his first outing gives them tremendous confidence.

 "I'm sure they're saying, "OK, we've got a weapon now. This rookie can play.' That just steps up the confidence of the offensive line and the quarterback is saying "OK, now we've got another weapon.' They've got some momentum going. They're 1-0. It's another challenge."

 Sounds like Bruschi's on the same page with his coach, Pete Carroll, who is looking for consistency week in and week out. Of course, that means at least 12 tackles a game for Bruschi.


SOME POSITIVE SIGNS IN BRUSCHI'S PROGRESS
Boston Globe - SATURDAY, September 18, 1999
By: Shira Springer, Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH - The  word  "adequate"  was carefully chosen. After all, the speaker thought his  performance  against  the  Jets  was satisfactory, but not stellar. He would  rather be damned by his own faint praise, than widely celebrated for his statistics in a game.


    During  three  seasons  with  the  Patriots, linebacker Tedy Bruschi has largely avoided the hype and hyperbole that can accompany football success. He   gradually   progressed   from  college  defensive  end  to  third-down pass-rusher  to defensive signal-caller. He provided glimpses of his talent in Super Bowl XXXI and at the end of last season. Year after year, he piled up enough tackles to plot the ideal learning curve.


    And  with  his current starting role, Bruschi has proven a perfect study in the benefits of patience and experience.


    "I'm  not  trying  to come out," said Bruschi. "I'm not trying to say to everybody,  `Look at me, I'm here now. I'm just trying to play football. My teammates have confidence in me and I have confidence in my teammates. It's all  about winning football games to me. The stats don't matter to me. None of that stuff matters. If we win the game, then I'm happy."


    Even  though  he  claimed  statistics  don't  matter,  the  linebacker's career-high  12 tackles against New York was hard to overlook. Doubts about the  Patriots defense may persist, but Bruschi showed he can handle his new responsibilities. Replacing injured Ted Johnson as the defense's leader for the  first  time  in a regular-season game, Bruschi adjusted quickly to the Jets' different looks and different personnel.


    "Everything  has  to be stepped up," he said of the signal-caller's job. "You  can't  just  watch film, you have to focus and try to understand what they're  doing  so  you can anticipate what play they're going to run, what motions  they're  going  to  have out of a certain set. With each different motion,  we have a different adjustment to make. You really have to pick up your understanding of the game. You have to dive into stuff even more . . . It  took  awhile  for me to adapt to that because Ted sure did do a lot for this  defense.  For  me  to  just  step  in  and do the same things, it was difficult at first."


    But  the  ability  to  make  smooth  transitions has been a trademark of Bruschi's  career.  The  86th  overall selection in the 1996 draft, Bruschi arrived  with  a  long  list  of  impressive  accomplishments.  He tied the Division  1-A  career  sack record with 52, equaling the mark set by former Alabama  All-American and current Kansas City All-Pro Derrick Thomas. After his  junior  year  at  Arizona,  he  was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, presented to the top lineman in the country.

   

Bruschi  spent  his first full season as a pass-rush specialist, hinting at  his  potential  in  the  Super  Bowl with two sacks. He learned to be a linebacker when Pete Carroll arrived in 1997, though he continued to fill a pass-rushing  role.  Each  year  his statistics improved as he continued to play in every game. He progressed from 11 tackles and four sacks his rookie season to 81 tackles last year.


    Starting  eight  games  last  season at weak-side linebacker in place of injured  Todd  Collins,  Bruschi  gained the confidence that has translated into his early success.


     "Each  year that my stats went up, my learning as a linebacker went up," he  said.  "I  think  the  way  that it's been done has been the right way. Coming  in,  I  really didn't have too much understanding of the linebacker position.  But  luckily  for  me, I had the ability to do some other things that kept me on the team.

 

     "I  think the big confidence boost I had was when Todd Collins went down last  year. Not that it was good, but it was kind of a blessing in disguise for  me. I got to come in and get those eight games of starting experience, starting  a  playoff  game.  That  was  where I really gained confidence in myself.  Going  into  the offseason, I told myself, `OK, I started half the year,  now  my  goal is to come in, have the starting position, and perform well throughout 16 games."


    Bruschi  and  the  defense  face  their  next  test against Indianapolis tomorrow.  The signal-caller devoted the past week to dissecting the Colts' offense,  particularly  the  threats presented by Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning.  But the linebacker plans to keep his approach simple. He believes if  you  understand  the  opposition's weapons, then you can concentrate on stopping them.


    "I  don't  have  any  starry  aspirations  right now," said Bruschi. "My career  has basically been a step-by-step process. Steady improvement on my part is really a goal that I want to focus on."


    If  he  considers  a career-high 12 tackles adequate, steady improvement could translate into a career year for the defense's new leader.

 

Football; Bruschi's return is in the Cards
RICH THOMPSON
Boston Herald
Wednesday,  October 27, 1999

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi knows there is a linebacking emergency facing the Patriots. That is why he is determined to return to the lineup on Sunday in Arizona.

    Bruschi plans to practice today and will be on the field alongside middle linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer when the Pats take on the Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. With fellow linebackers Ted Johnson, Bernard Russ, Marty Moore and Vernon Crawford all nursing injuries, Bruschi's return could not come at a better time.

    "I'm real close this week, I feel better," said Bruschi, an All-American at the University of Arizona who will be returning to enemy territory at Arizona State. "This isn't about me going home. Maybe if it were at Arizona Stadium in Tucson I'd feel a little different. This about me coming back this week, getting the knee right and us going to 6-2.

    "I'd say I'm close to 90 percent and I'm trying to will it mentally as much as I am telling myself it's getting better," Bruschi added. "I made some big strides getting better on Friday and Saturday and missing two games is enough, that's all I can take."

    Bruschi sat out the one-point loss to Miami two weeks ago and was on the sidelines Sunday as one linebacker after another went down with injuries in the one-point win over Denver. Moore suffered an ankle injury after making a special teams play and Crawford had to leave temporarily with strained ligaments in his right knee.

    "We are really thin, we dressed four linebackers and two went down," said Bruschi. "That's my position. The guys stepped up but it's about time for me to get back."

DOUBLE JEOPARDY FOR BRUSCHI \ INJURY LEAVES LINEBACKER IN LIMBO FOR HOMECOMING GAME
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
October 29, 1999
Author: Dick Cerasuolo

FOXBORO - Here's the choices: Play and risk further injury. Play and perhaps miss the rest of the season. Play and do so much damage you're career is jeopardized. Play with the hope all will be well.

 Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi wants to play. He's an Arizona graduate and going home and beating the Cardinals in Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium would be as good as whipping Arizona State. And he has 50 family and friends coming to Sunday's 4 p.m. game.

"The last thing on my mind is going home," said Bruschi, who has been out with a sprained right knee. "It'll be nice seeing everyone back home, but the priority is being 6-2 before the bye, being back on the field."

 Bruschi, a third-round draft pick in 1996 after he tied the NCAA career sack record, will be going home as a pro achiever, having finally moved into a starting spot as the weak-side linebacker.

 HURT REPLACEMENTS

 Since Bruschi went out of the lineup, replacements Marty Moore and Vernon Crawford were both hurt. The team signed Jeff Kopp as an emergency fill-in.

 The situation at Bruschi's position is dire, but Bruschi must also consider his own well-being

 "It's my decision," he said. "It's a difficult decision, especially with the bye week coming up. I could push it, but then do I just rest it and have another two weeks of rest?"

 Coach Pete Carroll wants to play Bruschi, the team's fourth-leading tackler with 47. Carroll wants to instill an attitude that injured players feel they must play.

 "I think there was still a little adrenaline in his blood at that point," Bruschi said of Carroll's comments. "He wants me out there really bad and I want to be out there really bad, but these are big days (yesterday and Wednesday) for me, get in some drills, some reps."

 Bruschi is in a business now. This isn't college football. This is a money decision as much as a team decision. He must protect his most important asset - his body.

 "I'd make the same decision in college," Bruschi said. "Guys in college are thinking about their future, too."

 "I trust the people here, the coaching staff, the medical staff. My family, myself will make the right decision."

   

FOOTBALL: GAME 8: THE CARDINALS; Bruschi's play triggers split decision
Michael Felger Boston Herald
Monday, November 1, 1999

 

TEMPE, Ariz. - There weren't all that many people at Sun Devil Stadium yesterday, but it seemed that every person that was there had an opinion of Tedy Bruschi.


    The weakside linebacker returned to action in the Patriots' 27-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals after missing the last two games with a right knee sprain. There to greet him were friends and enemies alike. The friends were backers of the Pats, his team, and the University of Arizona, his alma mater. The enemies were backers of the Cardinals, his opponent, and Arizona State, his former archrival.


    "It was something I've never experienced before," said Bruschi. "Half that crowd was from U of A and they were cheering with the Patriots fans. The other half was Arizona Cardinals-Arizona State fans and they hated me. It was an experience."


    And Bruschi was happy about it. After sitting out the last two-plus games, Bruschi was chomping at the bit to get back on the field. He got his wish on a day the Pats desperately needed him. With their linebacking corps depleted by injuries, Bruschi returned to record four tackles and help keep the Cards to only 76 rushing yards.


    "Two weeks is a long time to be sitting there watching your team play," said Bruschi. "I was really anxious to get back."
    As for the knee, Bruschi said it came through the game none the worse for wear. Bruschi was taken off the field for most third-down situations and came out for good in the fourth quarter after the Pats sealed the win.


    "It felt good," said Bruschi. "It stiffened up on me at halftime. There was some pain I experienced during the game, but minor things that I worked through. Then once our offense starting rolling like that in the second half, (coach) Pete (Carroll) and (trainer) Ronnie (O'Neil) agreed that that was enough."


    Bruschi prepared for the game by taking it easy the last three weeks of practice. Yesterday was the first contact he underwent since he first suffered the injury in Kansas City on Oct. 10.


    "I didn't get hit this week so I was still sort of nervous," said Bruschi. "But I went out there and it responded well."


    It was thought that the Cards, sensing a weakness in the Pats linebacking corps, would go after Bruschi. That never happened. Bruschi said he wasn't surprised.


    "I was back," he said. 'I was a little ginger in there at times, but basically I was back and I think they saw that and recognized that."

No pain, no gain for Bruschi

 By Ed Duckworth, New England Sports Service 11/01/99
 

 TEMPE, Ariz. -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi didn't know until Friday if he'd be able to play, but he suited up and made it through the game unscathed, making four tackles.
"I participated in about nine-tenths of the work Friday," he said. "I had a little pain (in the injured knee), but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle so I felt I could go.

"It's been tough for me to watch from the sidelines the last two weeks. I'm not 100 percent, which is what I hoped to be, but now I have two weeks to get better.
Bruschi credited defensive lineman Henry Thomas, Chad Eaton, Brandon Mitchell and Ferric Collons with controlling the line of scrimmage and taking away the Cardinals' running attack (76 yards on 19 carries).
"It was nice to be dropping back in coverage," said Bruschi. "It was understandable that they (the Cardinals) were going to struggle, what with a revamped offensive line and a new quarterback, and our front took it to them."

 

Bruschi leads hit parade

December 6, 1999
RICH THOMPSON

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi either sets an overinflated standard for himself or has a deflated definition of the word ordinary.

         For the second week in a row, Bruschi led the Patriots in tackles and was an active presence at weakside linebacker.

         In last week's 17-7 loss in Buffalo, Bruschi topped the ticket with 11 tackles.

         Last night, Bruschi contributed eight tackles and two crucial defended passes in a 13-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Foxboro Stadium.

         Bruschi has emerged as the Patriots' most effective every-down defender, and the return of middle linebacker Ted Johnson to the middle of the defense did nothing to change that. But Bruschi didn't think his play at the point of attack or in coverage was anything more than ordinary.

         "I think I played OK, nothing special, just ordinary," said Bruschi.

         "I didn't do anything more or less than what I ordinarily try to do every week."

         Johnson experienced his first hostile action since rupturing his left biceps tendon during an intrasquad scrimmage in August.

         In his absence, Bruschi assumed the duty of calling the defensive plays in the huddle. Being the eyes and ears of the defense helped elevate Bruschi's game.

         Bruschi believed Johnson's return to the lineup gave the Patriots defense a big lift.

         But after learning the ways and means of rookie Andy Katzenmoyer over 11 games, Bruschi had to reacquaint himself with Johnson's nuances.

         "Now that we have Ted in there, it's back to where it should have been," said Bruschi. "Ted is a great linebacker but Ted and I are going to have to get used to each other again because we didn't have the whole preseason and training camp.

    "But Ted and I are going to have to get used to playing with each other again."

         The linebacker play was critical because it kept Dallas tailback Emmitt Smith from taking control of the game. Smith did have his moments while rushing for 75 yards on 19 carries.

         But Smith was never allowed to carry the load for aging quarterback Troy Aikman, who was sacked three times for a loss of 20 yards.

         The Cowboys challenged the Patriots twice on fourth-down situations and lost both. The second attempt occurred on the New England 35 at 12:04 of the final quarter on a fourth-and-2. The Patriots' front put pressure on Aikman and his pass to tight end David LaFleur fell incomplete.

         That stop set up the Patriots' game-winning touchdown drive.

         "That was a huge play because when you stop them on fourth down, it's just like forcing a turnover," said Bruschi.

         "It's just like forcing a fumble or getting an interception so that was very huge on our part.

        "It was realy a gut check for us because one time they tried to run and the second time they tried to pass," said Bruschi.

         "That showed we had it covered in both areas."

         According to strongside linebacker Chris Slade, the character of the Patriots defense surfaced on the second fourth-down play.

         "It shows the character of this team on defense," said Slade.

         "We made some big plays on fourth down because the guys hung tough, and when you hang tough good things are going to happen."
 

BRUSCHI STANDS TALL FOR STRUGGLING PATS \ LITTLEST LINEBACKER MAY NOT BE BACK

Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
December 24, 1999

Author: Dick Cerasuolo

FOXBORO -- The biggest thing about linebacker Tedy Bruschi is going to be his paycheck.

 The question is: Will Patriots owner Bob Kraft be signing it?

Bruschi, who is second only to Lawyer Milloy (144) on the Pats with 115 tackles, is someone fans can cheer. And Bruschi says the Patriots will give the fans reason to cheer Sunday in their game against the 9-5 Bills.

 ``We're going to play with some heart,'' he said. ``That'll get the fans on our side once they see how we're playing.''

 When the season began, there were more question marks about Bruschi than coach Pete Carroll. Was he an every-down player? Was he too small to take the wear and tear?

 He is definitely one of this season's positives. The coach said all along that Bruschi, previously a third-down blitzer, was a full-time player. Carroll was right there.

 Bruschi has been a bright spot that might go away real fast. Bruschi is another of the team's free agents.

 The Patriots can declare one of their potential free agents -- Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown or Bruschi -- a franchise player, but that would create financial problems since the club can't pay any free agent the market price right now because of salary cap restrictions.

 Nothing has restricted Bruschi's stock from rising higher than he is.

 He wonders about that size knock, too. ``I'm 6-1 and 245 pounds,'' he said as he turned and asked Chris Slade how tall he is. Slade is listed at 6 feet, 5 inches. Bruschi just plays like he is at least 6-3.

 Bruschi knows he has marketed himself well, even though he'll tell you his goals are team-oriented. He doesn't feel he has done enough because the team hasn't succeeded. Bruschi was, nevertheless, pleased when he was complimented for a terrific season.

 ``I'm telling you I look at it simply, in team accomplishments,'' he said. ``Maybe I'll think about that, use that (good season) as leverage when I'm negotiating a contract after this year is over.''

 PROUD OF REPUTATION

 Bruschi says he doesn't use the size knock to motivate himself. He said he doesn't even consider it legitimate anymore. ``That's something that has been on me since I started playing in high school. I'll do whatever I have to do.

 ``If you look at me playing or listen to me talk, I've never had that, `I told you so' in my voice, that `I-told-you-so' demeanor about myself,'' Bruschi said. ``I'm just myself out there playing. It's who I am -- 6-1 playing linebacker in the NFL.

 ``I'll show you guys two inches taller than me that I'm better than,'' said Bruschi, giving a playful jab to the guy in the next locker, Slade.

 ``I've been labeled so long,'' Bruschi said. ``I was a defensive tackle-offensive guard in high school so I was small then.

 ``In college, playing defensive end at my size! Now I'm a linebacker and I'm thinking I won't be labeled anymore, but I get the same thing.''

 He'd rather think about the Bills than labels. ``I'm thinking about what we have to do to stop Doug Flutie, Antowain Smith, Thurman Thomas,'' Bruschi said. ``Thomas is back now (from a liver injury). He didn't play the first time we played them. And (Bills tight end) Jay Riemersma is back, too. He wasn't in the lineup the last time, either. It's going to be tougher.

 ``Defensively, we're going to be ready to play. We'll play hard. It's going to be nice playing at home.''

 ``It's funny how things work,'' said Bruschi, perhaps thinking of a time not too long ago when this was supposed to be a big game for the Pats, perhaps the game that would clinch a playoff berth.

 Bruschi has clinched one thing -- a comfortable ride on the free-agent money train.

 

 

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