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 2006 Articles

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Bruschi puts out welcome splat
Veteran delivers big hit on rookie Maroney
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | July 30, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- The screen was run to the right side, the ball softly arced in the direction of rookie running back Laurence Maroney.

Making the catch and preparing to turn upfield, Maroney ended up on the receiving end of more than just a football. Boom! It was a welcome-to-the-NFL hit by linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who dropped his right shoulder to make contact and send Maroney to the ground.

The play excited the defense, with Bruschi high-fiving nearby teammates. Meanwhile, Maroney reacted just as Bruschi hoped he would.

``I see him get up, go back to the huddle, and he's ready for the next play," said Bruschi, who also delivered a fairly powerful pop on Maroney during the first practice of camp Friday. ``That's all I want to see, and that's what he did. No talking, just, `All right, it's a good hit,' and he's ready to go again."

Maroney had a feeling he'd be on the receiving end of some type of hit, although he acknowledged he wasn't expecting such a powerful one.

``I was about due for one; you hear that everyone wants to hit the first-rounder," he said. ``But that one snuck up on me."

The 21-year-old Maroney was busy on the practice field yesterday morning, breaking free with quick acceleration on one running play outside the hash marks. He also had a power run in which he initiated contact with outside linebacker Chad Brown, the force of the contact dislodging Brown's helmet.

The plays illustrated the varied running skills of the 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound Maroney, who rushed for 3,933 yards and 32 touchdowns at the University of Minnesota. He has speed in the open field to outrun defenders, but also has power when running between the tackles.

Maroney's greatest challenge at this point, however, has little to do with running the football. It's his involvement in the passing game.

``Identifying defenses, blitz-pickup responsibilities, routes, techniques, catching the ball, all those things," explained coach Bill Belichick. ``That's something he didn't do a lot of in college, and didn't have a lot of opportunity to do. He's probably done more of it since he's been here than maybe he did the whole time he was at Minnesota."

One area that stands out to Maroney, who totaled just 21 receptions over three college seasons (17 coming in his senior season), is the preciseness in which everything in the passing game must be executed.

``It's basically learning the routes and knowing that if they want a 4-yard route, they want a 4-yard route. It's not a 3, not a 5," he said. ``There are a lot of things that tie into that. Just getting all that down has been tough, but I'm learning."

Belichick agrees, saying Maroney has made progress in the passing game, in part because of his time spent with assistant coach Ivan Fears and the team's other running backs. One of those backs, Corey Dillon, has occasionally pulled Maroney aside and offered guidance.

``He's helped me out a lot, telling me insights about things like how to read a defense a little bit better, proper footwork, small things like that," said Maroney, adding that he was simply following Dillon's advice to ``hit the defense first" when he rammed into Brown during yesterday's morning practice.

Earlier in July, though, Maroney was wondering if he would even be on the practice field with the Patriots for the start of training camp. He said he would occasionally call his representatives to check on the progress of contract talks and was surprised to learn that discussions had yet to take place.

``I was like, `Wow, do they not want me in at camp?' Then they started talking about it and everything started moving fast," he said. ``It seemed like we got the deal done right in time."

He felt it was crucial to be on the practice field with the rest of the team for the first day, which was made possible when a five-year deal was struck the night before training camp started.

``I'm starting from square one," said Maroney, a St. Louis native. ``These guys already know the game, know the business, know the plays. I felt like I had to get in on time, so I could stay up with the program."

And to keep pace with his fellow running backs, Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Patrick Pass, and Heath Evans.

``I think the whole running back group is pushing each other," he said. ``We have nice depth at running back. We all know we can bring something different to the team."

As for the hit from Bruschi, Maroney didn't appear flustered. He said ``it probably won't be the last time" so he plans to ``just get used to it."

Bruschi, for one, was impressed with Maroney's resolve.

``I think everyone's sort of looking at Laurence and how he responds, because he is young and this is his first training camp," Bruschi said. ``So far, I have no complaints about the kid."

Bruschi puts out welcome splat - The Boston Globe


Bruschi’s back with a vengeance: LB already going full-tilt
By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - Updated: 10:16 AM EST

FOXBORO - He is back again, from the very beginning this time, following an offseason spent doing what he does best and loves most: working. Tedy Bruschi looks healthy, sounds fit, and he has the parking spot to prove it.

Now, as the Patriots continue formal preparations for the 2006 season, the journey for Bruschi has changed back to something far more familiar. The senior statesman of the Patriots defense drives to Gillette Stadium, every day, and pulls into one of the prestigious parking spaces reserved for those players who had perfect attendance during the offseason.

If 90 percent of life is showing up, as Woody Allen once suggested, the brutish Bruschi is back at full tilt.

“I’ve got a whole offseason conditioning program in the bank,” a beaming Bruschi said yesterday as the team continued training camp workouts. “I’ve got the minicamp under me and I’ve got training camp now. It’s like night and day.”

Night and day? Truth be told, this is more like life and death. One year ago at this time, Bruschi was still recovering from a stroke, still rehabilitating his body and his mind. Bruschi began the season on the physically unable to perform list, then made his emotional return to the Patriots by recording 10 tackles in a nationally televised game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7.

Along with Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, Bruschi ended up a co-winner of the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award last season, but this much we now know: He will not be defending his title in 2006. Bruschi jumped into uniform midway through last year, at times acknowledging he was out of sync. He played well at times, so-so at others, but the mere fact that he stepped on the field was a near miracle.

Sometimes, simply showing up for work is the most courageous thing a man can do.

“Jumping in the way I did last year was a bit uncomfortable,” admitted Bruschi, referring to the challenge of joining a team in midseason. “You don’t have a minicamp or a training camp, and the first game back you play 70 plays. That’s different.”

Now Bruschi appears to be his old self and he seems to always be operating on a fully charged battery. He speaks quickly, the words frequently running together, entirely devoid of punctuation. On the field, he cannot seem to stand still, bouncing in place, agile as a cat.

Can’t the others see? Training camp is a chore to many players, a succession of tedious, tiring days in the 90-degree heat. To Bruschi it is part of a glorious life. Players play, as Bill Parcells taught us; that is just what they do. And Bruschi is nothing if not the consummate football player, a man who approaches training camp as he does those anticipated Sundays in autumn.

cw2cw2“This is no joke. It’s serious business,” said Bruschi, who has delivered precisely that message with a pair of jarring hits on rookie running back Laurence Maroney over the first two days of camp. “It’s not just something where the young guys get looks. I need this.”

Said Patriots coach Bill Belichick: “I think Tedy’s a high-energy player. He plays that way all the time, whether it’s practice or a game. That’s just his style of play. I think he’s just infectious to the other players on the team.”

Infectious, too, is the joy with which Bruschi performs.

Some people play football for fun and some have fun playing football, and Bruschi is clearly one of the latter. That is why he came back. That is why he is entering his 11th consecutive season in New England, more than any player on the roster but wide receiver Troy Brown. That is why he showed up, time after time, all offseason.

That is why he now looks as happy as ever.

“I am,” Bruschi said. “I was more excited about the offseason workouts this year than I’ve been in a long, long time. I’m proud I’ve got the parking spot out there. I’m a little more thrilled this time around just because of everything that happened last year and happy to be part of the process again.”

Wouldn’t you be?

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Bruschi’s back with a vengeance: LB already going full-tilt

Patriots won't be soft in the middle
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | August 1, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Middle managers can make or break a business. A football team, too.

The Patriots had a whirlwind year in the middle-management ranks in 2005, as their personnel at the heart of the 3-4 defense -- the inside linebacker spots -- underwent significant change.

Tedy Bruschi was sidelined by a stroke, then Ted Johnson unexpectedly retired on the eve of training camp. The season started with two newcomers, Monty Beisel and Chad Brown, and ultimately ended with Bruschi returning to action and teaming with Mike Vrabel.

This year, after seven training camp practices, the Patriots appear to have settled on a new middle-management team: Bruschi and Beisel. While the two suited up for nine games together last season, they hardly were in action at the same time. Bruschi was a starter and Beisel his backup.

So, in many ways, they're in the beginning stages of what they hope will be a productive working relationship.

``I really haven't gotten to play with Monty a lot," said the 33-year-old Bruschi, now in his 11th season. ``I'm looking forward to developing that chemistry with him this year, and we've had the minicamps and the offseason to try to do that. I think we're going to be a good team inside."

The importance of that team was evident during yesterday's morning practice, as coach Bill Belichick spent time exclusively working with Bruschi and Beisel when the Patriots broke down into individual position groups. Belichick played the role of quarterback, handing off to a running back who was following a lead blocker. After making the handoff, Belichick then coached the proper defensive technique for taking on blockers. Some of the work was also focused on the linebackers making adjustments in pass coverage and recognizing pass patterns.

While players at other positions were working on more individual-type drills, the fact that Bruschi and Beisel were paired up illustrated how important it is for them to develop cohesion. In some ways, it's like a quarterback gaining a feel for a receiver's tendencies through repetition.

``To be successful as an inside linebacker in this system, you want to be in tandem," explained fellow inside linebacker Don Davis. ``That means you're reading the same things, you read your keys, look at the backfield set, and anticipate the plays. It's working as a team, because one without the other doesn't work. It doesn't make for good linebacker play."

Beisel, who turns 27 Aug. 20, said a few changes have put him in position to produce better linebacker play than he did last season.

One is that he has had a full year in the system. He also said he has added 10 pounds (he's listed at 6 feet 3 inches, 240 pounds) without sacrificing speed, one of his greatest assets.

And he's initially being asked to focus solely on the weak-side position; last year, he was learning both the weak-side and ``mike" position.

The weak-side player generally has more freedom to run and isn't ``covered up" by opponents, while the mike -- which Bruschi said he played throughout 2005 -- is more of the traditional run-stuffing spot.

``I'm much more comfortable," said Beisel, a six-year veteran who recorded 57 tackles (32 solo) in six starts last year. ``Not only do I know the system better, but I know the guys I'm playing with and know what is expected. I know the mistakes that are happening before I even get inside and watch them on film, whereas last year, you really didn't know what you were supposed to do and when you were supposed to do it. It's a little bit of a different atmosphere."

In terms of in-depth knowledge of the Patriots system, Beisel couldn't ask for a better sidekick than Bruschi. Belichick said part of what makes Bruschi so effective is that he ``reads plays very quickly and understands our system very well and knows where he fits on everything."

Beisel has made gains in that area as well, according to Belichick.

``It's hard to go from one system to another when they're different," he said, noting that Beisel's former team, the Chiefs, played a different scheme, a 4-3. ``Monty made some progress last year and he's already way ahead of where he was last year. Hopefully he'll keep building off that."

If he does, that will allow the Patriots to keep Vrabel -- who made a remarkable transition to inside linebacker in 2005 -- at his more natural outside position. Bruschi likes the makeup of the top linebacker group, which has Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin on the edges and him and Beisel inside.

``Every one of us can make plays," he said.

Of the group, the most untested player is Beisel, whose career high in starts came in 2004, with nine. But Bruschi has faith in his partner in middle management.

``My game is different than Monty's, but I think that's good," he said. ``I'm looking forward to him having a better year this year."

Patriots won't be soft in the middle - The Boston Globe

Source: Bruschi may have broken wrist
By John Tomase/ Exclusive
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - Updated: 08:05 AM EST

FOXBORO - Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a possible wrist fracture at practice Monday and will be sidelined for at least a week while the team determines the severity of the injury.

According to a source, Bruschi will be put in a cast or splint for a week before a more definitive prognosis is reached.

He apparently hurt himself during Monday’s morning practice. He did not participate in drills that afternoon and missed both sessions yesterday.

Bruschi, 33, is in his first full season back since suffering a stroke last year. He had been a major physical presence early in camp, blasting rookie running back Laurence Maroney with big hits on consecutive days.

“Offensive guys, they don’t want to mess with Tedy,” defensive back Eugene Wilson said earlier in camp. “He’s done hurt a couple of guys it’s looking like already. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.”

Depending on how long he’s sidelined, the loss of Bruschi would be a huge blow to a defense that’s already thin at middle linebacker. Monty Beisel has been paired there with Bruschi, allowing Mike Vrabel to play outside, where he’s best suited. With Bruschi out, Vrabel may be forced back inside.

The good news is that the season doesn’t open until Sept. 10, so there’s time for Bruschi to heal. There’s also a chance that if he did suffer a break, it’s relatively minor.

Whatever the final prognosis, Bruschi has overcome worse. He was expected to miss last season - if not retire - after his stroke. But he made a dramatic return on Oct. 30 against Buffalo, earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors with a 10-tackle effort.

He clearly gained strength as the season progressed, recording 72 tackles and two sacks in nine games, sharing Comeback Player of the Year honors with Carolina wideout Steve Smith.

He arrived at camp fully healthy. This latest setback is just another challenge he’ll have to overcome.


BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Source: Bruschi may have broken wrist


Patriots may be without Bruschi for 2 weeks
LB reportedly has injured wrist, will take tests to see if it’s fractured
MSNBC staff and news service reports

Updated: 1:53 a.m. ET Aug 2, 2006
The New England Patriots are hoping the latest blow to Tedy Bruschi's health isn't serious.

Bruschi, the Pats' middle linebacker and emotional leader on defense, is nursing a wrist injury and could miss at least a week of camp, the Boston Herald reported. He'll have further tests to determine if the injury is a fracture.

He was reportedly hurt during drills Monday and did not participate on Tuesday.

Patriots officials did not comment on the report.

Bruschi, Bruschi suffered a stroke in Feb. 2005, then had surgery to repair a small hole in his heart. He was expected to miss all of last season, but returned in October. He would share AP Comeback Player of the Year honors with Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith.

If Bruschi is out for an extended period of time, it would add to New England's injury problems. The team has tried Monty Beisel at that spot and may have to move outside linebacker Mike Vrabel to the middle.

"I really haven't gotten to play with Monty a lot," Bruschi, now in his 11th season, told The Boston Globe on Tuesday. "I'm looking forward to developing that chemistry with him this year, and we've had the minicamps and the offseason to try to do that. I think we're going to be a good team inside."

Prior to his injury-shortened 2005-06 season, Bruschi had enjoyed the best two years of his career while leading the Patriots to Super Bowl championships in 2004 and 2005. He totaled 128 tackles in 2003 and 120 in 2004 and intercepted three passes each year.

Pats may be without Bruschi for 2 weeks - NFL - MSNBC.com

Bruschi misses practice again
Linebacker's wrist is 'probably sore'
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | August 3, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi missed his fourth straight practice yesterday, fueling speculation he sustained an injury earlier this week.

Asked to confirm that Bruschi injured his wrist, coach Bill Belichick said, ``His wrist is probably sore. I'm sure he has a lot of sore body parts. He's day to day."

Players took note of Bruschi's absence. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs, for one, looks to Bruschi for inspiration.

``We all get banged up, we all have our nicks and bruises," Hobbs said. ``When I sit down at my locker and look over to my far right and see a guy like him and what he's been through, who am I in my second year to be complaining about something minor? This guy has been through life-threatening situations."

Quarterback Tom Brady isn't concerned with how Bruschi will handle his apparent setback.

``Tedy has been through a whole bunch, so I'm not worried about him at all," Brady said. ``Tedy has the most positive attitude of anybody I've been around, so I'm sure it won't be long before he's out here."

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork believes the Patriots must focus on not breaking stride despite Bruschi's absence.

``We have to just keep rolling," he said. ``Whatever his situation is, I'm sorry, but we have to keep rolling. We have a season to play."

With Bruschi missing yesterday's lone practice, and Monty Beisel held out for the second straight workout, the Patriots turned to veterans Don Davis and Barry Gardner at inside linebacker with their top unit. Second-year player Eric Alexander and rookie free agent Freddie Roach also took practice repetitions at the position. The 29-year-old Gardner, though, appears to be the player who would step into Bruschi's role, as he led the huddle and set the front seven during drills yesterday.

An eight-year veteran who entered the league in 1999 as a second-round draft choice out of Northwestern, he signed a free agent deal with the Patriots in May. He's played in 110 games, with 24 starts, although he hasn't been a regular starter since 2000.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 245-pound Gardner, who has suited up for the Eagles (1999-2002), Browns (2003-04), and Jets (2005), has never played in a 3-4 defense. Belichick, however, said he's a quick study.

``Barry is a smart guy, he is a very instinctive player," Belichick said. ``He picks things up pretty quickly and he understands concepts, so even though he hasn't played in this style of defense or this system, fundamentally there are a lot of instinctive skills that he has. He understands defensive adjustments."

Banged-up Bruschi misses practice again - The Boston Globe


Bad break for Bruschi? Scaphoid injury requires a closer look
By John Tomase
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Thursday, August 3, 2006 - Updated: 06:18 AM EST

FOXBORO - Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a possible break to the scaphoid bone in his wrist - an injury that could sideline him for at least six weeks if it requires surgery.

The Patriots do not yet know the severity of the injury, which could simply be a sprain. Scaphoid injuries are tough to diagnose because the bone is the size of a peanut.

Dr. Bill Morgan, former team doctor for the Red Sox and chief of the Bone and Joint Center at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, said it sounds as though Patriots doctors are right to be cautious. In assessing the nature of scaphoid injuries in general, Morgan stressed that he has not examined Bruschi himself.

“Scaphoid fractures can be very difficult to deal with,” Morgan said. “Usually, early on you suspect the injury but don’t know for sure. You can get fooled because it’s a little peanut-shaped bone in three dimensions and an X-ray is only two-dimensional. The better part of valor is treat it like a fracture and get a follow-up X-ray.”

Misdiagnosed or left untreated, the injury can be severe. Carolina Panthers linebacker Dusty Renfro broke the bone in training camp in 2001 and never played again, eventually winning a worker’s compensation suit. Reached at his office in Texas yesterday, Renfro declined comment, citing ongoing appeals.

In hockey, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray missed the 2002-03 season with a scaphoid fracture that didn’t heal properly. He returned in 2004 and played well enough to be named an All-Star.

Morgan said the Patriots appear to be taking the proper approach by putting Bruschi in a splint for a week in advance of further testing. Morgan said he dealt with similar situations that simply couldn’t be diagnosed immediately.

“I used to hate when people would second-guess with no idea of reality,” Morgan said. “For these fractures, you really have to be cautious. If it doesn’t heal properly, it can be a huge problem, even in Joe Blow, never mind a high-performance athlete.”

The injury typically is incurred while breaking a fall. An athlete sticks out his hand, hyperextends his wrist and breaks the scaphoid. It’s often misdiagnosed as a sprain because the bone’s location within the wrist produces limited swelling and bruising.

If, in fact, Bruschi has merely suffered a sprain, he’d likely miss just a week or two. If it’s broken, Morgan said the next step is usually to insert a screw into the bone to ensure proper healing.

“You’re still talking six weeks to heal at best,” he said of that scenario. “You don’t just put a screw in and say, ‘Now I can go play.’ You still have to heal, rehab, regain range of motion and strength. It needs to be healed for the intensity needed to play.”

A broken scaphoid limits the ability to perform most wrist functions. For a linebacker, that would mean difficulty in grabbing ball carriers, engaging blockers and pushing through a pile.

“The big problem is pain. You can’t extend your wrist,” Morgan said. “It becomes extremely difficult even for an athlete to do a push-up.”

Bruschi’s teammates have no doubt he can play through pain.

“You want 11 guys on your defense like Tedy Bruschi,” nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. “Bumps and bruises don’t keep that guy down. He finds a way to keep ticking. He’s got a lot of heart, a lot of class, a lot of toughness.”

Added cornerback Ellis Hobbs: “A lot of (injured) guys in sports are just milking it. I’m not calling anyone out. I’m just calling it how it is. To see a guy who wants to be out there, wants to be part of the things we’re doing is gut-wrenching.”

Morgan said one of the biggest concerns with the scaphoid is blood flow. The bone has a limited blood supply as it is, and depending on the location of the break, may not get enough blood to heal.

“People look at bones like they’re sticks,” Morgan said. “Bones are like livers, spleens and skin. They need blood to heal.”

The Patriots should know more in the next week. Bruschi has already overcome a stroke, but a break to this bone couldn’t be rushed. Morgan said there’s a good chance the Bruschi and the Pats will be dealing with the best-case scenario.

“The people taking care of him are very good,” Morgan said. “They’re probably, and hopefully."

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bad break for Bruschi? Scaphoid injury requires a closer look


Pats confirm Bruschi’s wrist injury
By Michael Felger
Boston Herald Patriots Beat Columnist

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 - Updated: 02:15 AM EST

The Patriots confirmed last night Tedy Bruschi has a broken wrist, but the key question regarding the inside linebacker - whether or not he needs surgery - won’t be answered until today or tomorrow.

A Pats spokesman said Bruschi will miss the entire preseason. Unfortunately, that could be just the beginning of Bruschi’s time on the shelf. According to sources, Bruschi broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist, an injury that, if it requires surgery, can take at least six weeks to heal.

Bruschi, who suffered the injury the first few days of training camp, will be examined by doctors in the next 48 hours, and if he has to go under the knife, the Pats probably won’t have him back until the end of September or beginning of October.

Most scaphoid bone surgeries involve inserting a screw in the bone to ensure proper healing. Unlike other breaks, this one does not allow for players to play through the healing with a cast covering the break.

Even when Bruschi was healthy, the Pats were thin at linebacker. Now they’re decimated, with Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin the only proven, productive starters.

Monty Beisel, a disappointment in 2005, has been working with the starters when healthy at camp. The rest of the depth chart is made up of special teams regulars (Don Davis, Larry Izzo and Tully Banta-Cain), veteran bubble players (Barry Gardner and Chad Brown) and rookie free agents (Freddie Roach and Corey Mayes).

With Bruschi down, Vrabel has seen more time as an inside linebacker the past two days. The Pats likely will have to acquire another veteran to fill out the ranks.

Because Bruschi did not begin the year on the pysically unable to perform list, that option is not available to the Pats. They will have to carry Bruschi on the active roster until he is ready to return.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Pats confirm Bruschi’s wrist injury



Patriots linebacker Bruschi out again By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
1 hour, 51 minutes ago

Three days before he broke his wrist, Tedy Bruschi didn't want to compare training camps — the one he missed last summer because of a stroke and the one he felt fine in this summer.

"This is a new year," the New England Patriots linebacker and defensive signal-caller said on the opening day. "I had a great offseason and this year I'm looking just to have a good year."

The comparisons were unavoidable when Bruschi underwent surgery Wednesday and his teammates addressed his loss for at least the entire exhibition season.

"His presence, his leadership, his vocal (presence), his mental understanding of the game is huge for us," safety Rodney Harrison said. "Right now, Tedy has an issue and, fortunately for us, we have time right now. We have other guys. We get a chance to look at other young guys."

Bruschi, entering his 11th season with the Patriots, was hurt on July 31, just the fourth day of camp, and hasn't practiced since. Two days later, coach Bill Belichick said, "His wrist is probably sore. I'm sure he has a lot of sore body parts. He's day-to-day."

On Tuesday night, after Bruschi missed his 10th straight workout, Belichick confirmed that Bruschi had a broken wrist and would not play in any exhibition games.

"The information was new information and I was asked a question so I answered it truthfully," Belichick said Wednesday, "as I did the week before."

He said he didn't know if Bruschi would need surgery, then added, "I said everything I'm going to say about that."

A few hours later, team spokesman Stacey James said Bruschi had surgery Wednesday.

Belichick hasn't said which wrist Bruschi broke or whether the player would be ready for the regular season opener on Sept. 10 at home against Buffalo.

The Patriots didn't have Bruschi last training camp, so they might be better able to adjust to his loss this time.

"I don't know," Belichick said. "We're on a new year, so we've got new people this year."

Bruschi had a stroke on Feb. 16, 2005, and the Patriots began last season with newcomers Monty Beisel and Chad Brown at inside linebacker. Bruschi returned for the seventh game.

This summer, Bruschi and Beisel began camp as the first-stringers inside. Now Patriots veterans Don Davis, Larry Izzo, and free agent pickup Barry Gardner, primarily a special teams player in his other seven NFL seasons, are among those filling in for Bruschi.

"Any time you come in a new system, you definitely have to learn from those who come before you," Beisel said, "and (Bruschi) has definitely been a guy that's been around here for a number of years."

The Patriots linebacking corps has been thinned out by the retirement of inside linebacker Ted Johnson the day before training camp last year and the loss of outside linebacker Willie McGinest as a free agent to Cleveland after last season.

"We've been having to deal with that for the last few years," Davis said, "so a guy goes down and that makes an opportunity for somebody else to step up."

The Patriots also lost kicker Adam Vinatieri and wide receiver David Givens to free agency and have been without their top receiver, Deion Branch, who is holding out for a new contract.

The team did get Harrison, center Dan Koppen, defensive end Richard Seymour, cornerback Randall Gay and defensive lineman Johnathan Sullivan back Monday from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Without Bruschi, their leading tackler over the last five seasons, the only remaining starting linebacker from the 2004 season, when the Patriots won their most recent Super Bowl and third in four seasons, is linebacker Mike Vrabel. He is back at his outside spot after starting the last 11 games last season inside next to Bruschi.

"I like playing with Tedy just because he's a great friend and we know a lot about each other," Vrabel said. "We're pretty similar so I think that when you see us out there there's a lot of interaction."

There's another similarity: Vrabel also missed a good portion of last year's training camp after hurting his ankle in the first exhibition game and sitting out the remaining three.

"I don't think it helped me. I think that the games are important," he said. "To what extent, I think that's personal."

The Patriots play their exhibition opener Friday night in Atlanta without Bruschi.

They probably won't have Brown either. He re-signed just before training camp but has been out with a hand injury of unknown severity.

"He's got a sore hand," Belichick said.

Might it be broken?

"I'm not sure," he added.

Patriots linebacker Bruschi out again - Yahoo! News

Bruschi braces for yet: Despite surgery, sets sights on Pats’ opener
By John Tomase
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Thursday, August 10, 2006 - Updated: 07:02 AM EST

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi had a screw implanted in his broken wrist yesterday and, according to a source close to the Patriots linebacker, hopes to return for the season opener.

Bruschi broke the scaphoid, a peanut-sized bone under the thumb that helps with tasks essential to a linebacker - gripping, pushing and pulling. When the bone is broken, experts say even a world-class athlete would be hard-pressed to perform a pushup.

There had been hope that Bruschi merely fractured the bone and would require only the short-term immobilization of a cast, but undergoing surgery meant he suffered a more serious break. The Patriots haven’t said which wrist Bruschi broke or how long he’s projected to be out.

According to Dr. Bill Morgan, head of the Bone and Joint Center at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and former Red Sox team physician, surgeries such as Bruschi’s usually require a minimum of six weeks to heal.

That would keep Bruschi sidelined until the third week of the season. However, a source yesterday indicated that Bruschi believes he can return in time to face the Bills in the regular-season opener on Sept. 10.

The Patriots on Tuesday announced he’ll miss the entire preseason.

“I’d say everybody’s got the standard Tedy Bruschi line,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said. “He’s going to be out for the preseason and that’s where we’re going to leave it.”

Bruschi’s surgery was performed yesterday morning at Mass. General. He broke the bone during practice on July 31, but an immediate diagnosis could not be made because of the small size of the scaphoid and the resulting difficulty in spotting what are often tiny breaks on an X-ray.

It’s possible, though not medically advisable, that Bruschi could play with a cast. North Carolina State running back T.A. McClendon played the last nine games of the 2002 season with a cast protecting a broken scaphoid and managed to rush for more than 1,000 yards, a figure he did not reach the rest of his college career.

Conversely, Carolina Panthers linebacker Dusty Renfro broke his scaphoid in 2001 and never played again.

“You don’t just put a screw in and say, ‘Now I can go play,’ ” Morgan said last week. “You still have to heal, rehab, regain range of motion and strength. It needs to be healed for the intensity needed to play.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick predictably had little to add on Bruschi’s situation yesterday. When asked shortly before noon if the team knew whether the linebacker would have surgery, Belichick said, “I don’t know.”

“I said everything I’m going to say about that,” Belichick said. “I made a short statement and that’s the truth and that’s what I know. That’s it.”

Bruschi is no stranger to comebacks. He missed the first six games of last season while recovering from a minor stroke suffered Feb. 16, 2005, but went on to share the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award with Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith.

He was off to a good start at camp, setting the tone physically with a pair of crunching hits on rookie running back Laurence Maroney and playing with a passion many players admit was missing last season.

The 33-year-old former Pro Bowler is entering his 11th season. He’s a key component to the defense and the team’s signature 3-4 alignment.

Without Bruschi in the middle, Monty Beisel and Barry Gardner have taken many of the reps in practice. Vrabel could also slide in from outside linebacker, or the team could alter its style and play more 4-3 fronts, taking a linebacker off the field.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi braces for yet: Despite surgery, sets sights on Pats’ opener


Bruschi appears

Tedy Bruschi made his first public appearance since breaking his right wrist at the start of training camp. The injured linebacker attended the team’s Kickoff Gala and signed autographs for about an hour, his line dwarfing everyone else’s.

Each fan wanted to know about his wrist, to which Bruschi gave the stock answer of, “It’s coming along. It’s coming along.” He politely declined an interview request from a trio of reporters as he prepared to sit down for dinner, saying he’d talk next week.

Bruschi wore a removable cast on his right hand. Fortunately for him (and to correct an earlier story), he’s left-handed, which made signing autographs a lot easier.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Green’s work earns salute


Tedy Bruschi

BOSTON Papa Gino's said it has signed New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi to star in the pizzeria chain's latest campaign.

The ads were created by Boston-based independent Gearon Hoffman, and new iterations featuring Bruschi will break next week and run through December. TV, radio and print are all in the mix. The work promotes the chain's "Crowd Pleaser" meal offering.

"Papa Gino's is a quality, family-oriented, caring organization, and I'm proud to represent them," Bruschi said, in a statement. Indeed, the chain bills itself as "The family pizzera since 1961."

Bruschi is a stroke survivor, and Papa Gino's said it has donated $20,000 to Tedy's Team, an organization dedicated to raising funds through donations and athletics sponsorships for the American Stroke Association and Train to End Stroke Foundation.

Papa Gino's has frequently engaged local sports personalities, employing Pats kicker Adam Vinateri and Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in past promotional efforts.

Another Pats star, Richard Seymour, recently signed to appear in commercials for Dunkin' Donuts.

Based in Dedham, Mass., Papa Gino's Holdings owns the Papa Gino's and D'Angelo's dining chains. Overall, there are 375 company-owned and franchised Papa Gino's, D'Angelo's and dual-location eateries, concentrated in New England.

The client spends $2-3 million annually on ads. Gearon has worked on the business for the past two years.


Patriots' Bruschi to Tout Papa Gino's

Bruschi returns to practice
LB bears down, could play in season opener
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | September 8, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Tedy Bruschi went back to his roots yesterday.

Returning to practice for the first time since July 31, Bruschi reflected on the slogan of his alma mater -- the University of Arizona -- for inspiration. Written in black letters on the cast that covered his right wrist was a reminder for him to ``Bear Down!" That's been the rallying cry for Arizona's athletic department since 1926.

As the regular season bears down on the Patriots, Bruschi took a step toward suiting up Sunday against the Bills by participating in the team's full-pads workout. The number of drills in which Bruschi participated is unknown, and at what intensity he worked. On their injury report released yesterday afternoon, the Patriots noted Bruschi missed at least a portion of team-specific drills.

Before practice, coach Bill Belichick was asked how Bruschi was progressing and said, ``He's getting better every day."

Bruschi, who underwent surgery on the scaphoid bone of his wrist Aug. 9 at Massachusetts General Hospital, remains questionable, giving him a 50-50 chance of playing in the opener. Bruschi had targeted Sunday for his return since the surgery, and told fans at the team's Kickoff Gala last week that the wrist was making progress.

If Bruschi plays Sunday, he'd do so with the cast.

``I'm sure that at some point that will be part of his equipment just like it is with all players that have injuries that need a little support," Belichick said. ``I don't think there's any doubt about that."

The cast will make it more challenging for Bruschi to secure the football, which was evidenced during practice when he attempted to pick up a loose ball, with cornerback Randall Gay nearby, and it squirted free. The 33-year-old inside linebacker ultimately corralled the ball after tipping it in the air a few times.

Bruschi's return to practice strengthens one of the thinner positions of the roster. Mike Vrabel and Junior Seau are the projected starters at inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense without Bruschi, leaving Rosevelt Colvin and Tully Banta-Cain on the outside. The team's top backup at outside linebacker is rookie free agent Pierre Woods, while the backups inside are Don Davis, Larry Izzo, and Eric Alexander, all of whom make their marks more on special teams.

As Bruschi works his way into game shape, the likely scenario is that he splits time with Seau. Bruschi has been taking part in meetings and has been a coach of sorts to the 37-year-old Seau, who said he's been asking ``a lot of questions" of Bruschi and his teammates.

At one point early in practice yesterday, Bruschi, with his white socks pulled up to his knees, shared a laugh with Vrabel. The two have spoken in the past about how much they enjoyed playing together in the middle of the defense.

``I like playing with Tedy because he's a great friend and we know a lot about each other," Vrabel said earlier in training camp. ``We're pretty similar. So I think when you see us out there, there is a lot of interaction, and I enjoy that.

``It's not only the success we've had, but just having fun playing with a great friend."

Prior to his injury, Bruschi had set the tone in training camp, welcoming rookie running back Laurence Maroney to the NFL with a big hit on a screen pass. He also felt he had ``a great offseason" in the team's conditioning program.

Bruschi's return to practice wasn't a surprise to his agent, Brad Blank.

``Knowing him, I'd never rule him out," said Blank.

Bruschi returns to practice - The Boston Globe

Tedy’s back in line -- Bruschi returns to practice
By John Tomase
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Friday, September 8, 2006 - Updated: 06:40 AM EST

FOXBORO - The words scrawled on Tedy Bruschi’s cast were unmistakable, and offered a reminder he probably didn’t need.

“Bear Down!”

No one gives more on a football field than Bruschi, which he demonstrated yesterday by returning to practice for the first time since breaking his right wrist July 31.

Bruschi stretched in pads alongside fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel. He wasn’t wearing a red non-contact jersey, and looked ready to practice, though there is no way to know for certain, since media were hustled out after roughly five minutes of stretching. Bruschi was listed as questionable on the injury report, which stated that he missed a portion of team drills during practice.

Regardless, the fact that No. 54 could take the field at all speaks well to his returning in the near future, despite a fracture of the tiny scaphoid bone below his right thumb.

“Tedy’s good,” said coach Bill Belichick before Bruschi took the field. “He’s getting better every day.”

There still is no indication of whether Bruschi will play Sunday in the season opener against Buffalo. He is on the injury report as questionable, which means there is a 50 percent chance he will suit up.

If he does play, odds are good he will be wearing the removable cast he sported yesterday.

“I’m sure that at some point that will be part of his equipment, just like it is with all players that have injuries that need a little support,” Belichick said. “Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Bruschi’s teammates didn’t have much to say about him yesterday for fear of giving away his playing status, but they said he is in good spirits despite the setback.

“Tedy’s always walking in here with a smile,” linebacker Larry Izzo said. “He’s a great teammate and a great friend. I know any time I’ve been out, it’s frustrating. I can understand if he has those feelings.”

Recently acquired Junior Seau, who is slated to start in Bruschi’s place alongside Mike Vrabel at inside linebacker, said Bruschi is needed on the field.

“Going through practices, with him not being out there, he was heavily missed,” Seau said. “He’s just a great guy, a guy that loves the game.”

Unable to play, Bruschi has instead made his presence felt in team meetings.

“Tedy has been very involved in everything and he’s great about that, just like he was last year with some of the new guys that have played in there,” Belichick said. “He’s really good with pointing out things, ‘Here’s how we played this,’ and that type of thing. Overall it’s a good (linebacking) group and they work well together. Tedy is a big part of that.”

Bruschi’s return would shake up the linebacking corps. As it stands now, Seau and Vrabel will start inside, with Rosevelt Colvin and Tully Banta-Cain the outside backers. A healthy Bruschi likely would push Vrabel outside and Banta-Cain into a situational pass rushing role. Seau is expected to come off the field in obvious passing situations either way.

Since suffering the injury, Bruschi has been telling friends he hopes to play in the opener, which seemed optimistic. Former Red Sox team doctor Bill Morgan said scaphoid injuries can be tricky and often require six weeks in a cast. Bruschi underwent surgery on Aug. 8.

Then again, as the reminder on his cast attests, Bruschi is not one to take the easy way out. Seau marvels at the way Bruschi has become synonymous with the three-time Super Bowl champions.

“Not only with the team, but with this whole city,” Seau said. “When you have a guy that’s able to merge his personality, his work ethic, his persona, not only in the locker room, but outside the locker room, it’s someone that’s special. There aren’t that many guys who can do that.”

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy’s back in line -- Bruschi returns to practice

The three wise men: Bruschi, Brown, Faulk have seen it all
By John Tomase/ Pats preview 2006
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Thursday, September 7, 2006 - Updated: 09:58 AM EST

They remember Pete Carroll, Foxboro Stadium, and what it’s like have a losing season in a Patriots uniform.

Two of them were there for Super Bowl XXXI, and the third had little reason to believe the team would ever see a big game during his tenure.

They are Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Kevin Faulk, and as far players go, they are New England’s institutional memory.

Brown is the longest tenured, having arrived in the eighth round of the 1993 draft. According to Patriots research, he is the last active eighth-rounder in the league, the draft shrinking to seven rounds starting in 1994.

Brown still views his formative years with frustration. It took him five seasons to crack the receiving rotation and he was cut once in 1994.

‘‘Early in my career I didn’t have a chance to feel like a part of the team,’’ he said. ‘‘I always felt expendable. I wanted to go out and make plays that meant something.

‘‘There were five or six years there where I hardly ever touched the field. Then to go out and have three straight years catching 80 or more balls makes you wonder what could have happened if I played a lot early in my career. If I could have gotten the same chances other guys got because they were high draft picks, I feel I could have grown into a good receiver early in my career.

Those were some upsetting, frustrating times, but built on it, I didn’t dwell on it.’’

Brown remains a vital part of the offense at age 35, where he’s Tom Brady’s most trusted target, just as he was Drew Bledsoe’s. Bruschi’s career trajectory is more like Brown’s than many realize. Selected in the third round of the 1996 draft, he recorded just 11 tackles as a rookie and spent most of his time on special teams. But he steadily improved each season thereafter, culminating in a 2004 All-Pro berth that preceded the stroke that nearly ended his career.

The Patriots open the season against Buffalo and Bruschi hopes to be on the field despite a broken wrist. He made his emotional return last year against the Bills in Week 7.

‘‘I can’t relate to you just how emotional the two weeks before the first Buffalo game were,’’ Bruschi said before his latest injury. ‘‘We had a bye week leading up to it. There was a lot of time to sit there and think about it.

‘‘The emotions of that game, I can’t equate to any other I’ve played before or since. It was all the aspects of it — me coming back, the stroke, everything. I’m always going to hold that game separately. Because the way I felt in the third and fourth quarter, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that emotional.’’

That leaves Faulk. The 30-year-old running back was selected in the second round of the 1999 draft out of LSU. Fumbles plagued him early in his career, but in recent years he has emerged as a complementary playmaker out of the backfi e l d on draws and screens. He’s often Brady’s safety valve.

‘‘You just go in year after year and work as hard as you can,’’ Faulk said. ‘‘That’s what I’ve been doing since Day 1 and that’s what I’m doing now. I feel like I’ve learned a lot of things since I came into this league, and I’m still learning every single day.’’

Brown, Bruschi and Faulk may continually have things to learn, but after years and years here, they have plenty to teach.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: The three wise men: Bruschi, Brown, Faulk have seen it all


Patriots leave Bruschi on inactive list

Associated Press
Posted: 1 day ago

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who broke his right wrist on the fourth day of training camp and didn't return to practice until Thursday, was inactive for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

Bruschi was the NFL's co-Comeback Player of the Year last season with Carolina's Steve Smith after playing in 10 games despite an offseason stroke. But he missed all four exhibition games.
Coincidentally, Smith was inactive for the Panthers in their game against Atlanta because of a hamstring injury.

Also inactive for New England were receivers Chad Jackson and Doug Gabriel, who recently was acquired from Oakland.

FOX Sports - NFL - Patriots leave Bruschi on inactive list


Captain of comebacks - Bruschi close to another return
By John Tomase
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Saturday, September 16, 2006 - Updated: 12:33 PM EST

FOXBORO - The bag was a good sign, as was the fact that Tedy Bruschi packed it with two hands, cast free.

He gathered his things in anticipation of tomorrow’s encounter with the Jets at the Meadowlands. Whether he plays remains to be seen, but at least it appears he’ll be in attendance.

Bruschi’s come a long way since the first weekend of training camp, when he broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist. Yesterday, he discussed his injury for the first time, accepting it in the long view as an occupational hazard and making it clear he won’t play until he’s ready.

“I’ve just looked at it as you play football, you can break bones,” Bruschi said. “You can pull muscles. You can get injured. That’s what happened to me. Ever since I broke my wrist I’ve been trying to get back to play football again.”

And how close is he?

“Practice has gone all right,” Bruschi said. “We’ll see how it is (tomorrow). Then coaches and trainers will make a decision.”

Bruschi broke the wrist at practice on July 31. He doesn’t know how it happened, but by the end of the day he knew something was wrong.

“I realized it after practice was over,” he said. “I was able to finish the practice. Once I took my tape job off and let my hand move around a little, I figured something was wrong.

“I’ve had sore wrists before. I’ve had pain before. I thought I’d just rub it out and throw some ice on it. It continued to give me some pain, and I figured we needed to take a look at it. And that’s when we discovered there was a problem in there.”

Surgery followed a week later, and Bruschi began his rehab. He’s no stranger to comebacks. Last year, he returned from a stroke and shared Comeback Player of the Year honors with Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith.

Given everything he’s overcome, it would be understandable if he took a “Why me?” attitude following his latest setback. But he doesn’t look at things that way.

“I don’t relate the two,” he said. “I can’t relate the two. I refuse to. This is totally different. All this is is a broken wrist.”

It’s an injury that can prove problematic if it doesn’t heal properly. Montreal Canadiens forward Sheldon Souray missed an entire season with a misdiagnosed scaphoid injury, and former Panthers linebacker Dusty Renfro literally had his career end with one.

Bruschi recognizes the old saying about discretion being the better part of valor and won’t force the issue tomorrow.

“We’ll see what decision is made, whether I can be out there or not,” he said. “I’m sure once we see how I am (tomorrow) and how I feel and communicate to Jim (Whelan, trainer), that’s a decision the coaches and trainers will make, and we’ll take it from there.”

Bruschi has been adjusting to wearing a removable cast in practice. It envelops his hand and makes tackling and shedding more difficult.

“Practice has been going all right,” Bruschi said. “Of course, I’ve got some padding on there, and as you guys have seen, I have a cast on there. It takes some getting used to, but it’s something I have to get used to. I have to. When you have an injury like this, initially there is going to be some adjustment you have to deal with.

“All I know is for now we want to protect it. That’s natural, whether it was the wrist or something else that suffered an injury. We’re trying to prevent reinjury.”

Bruschi joked that the injury hasn’t prevented him from playing the saxophone. He also noted that whereas six weeks ago he had never heard of a scaphoid, he can now name all eight bones in the wrist.

“There’s a saying doctors use to name all eight,” he said. “Something catchy. I wasn’t knowledgeable on the wrist before this injury. You learn things about your body once something happens to it. I think I learned a lot about my heart and brain last year.

“If you want to go through my entire body citing all the football injuries I’ve had, I can name every one. When something happens, you focus on coming back as quickly as you can.”


BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Captain of comebacks - Bruschi close to another return

Bruschi a game-time decision
By:Michael Parente , Journal Register News Service

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi probably couldn't spell "scaphoid" in August, let alone point out where it was on his body.

After breaking the peanut-sized bone in his right wrist, the veteran linebacker now has an advanced understanding of the human anatomy.

"You learn things about your body once things happen to them," Bruschi said Friday. "I know now that there are eight bones in the wrist and there is a saying doctors use to name all of them out - something catchy."

The injury forced Bruschi to miss the entire preseason and sit out last weekend's opener against Buffalo, but he's participated in five consecutive practices and will be a "game-time decision" Sunday at the Meadowlands when the Jets host the New England Patriots.

"He's done well. He's had a couple of good weeks now," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "I think he's getting closer."

Bruschi is questionable on the injury report - as he was last weekend - but he'll make the trip to New York on Saturday and participate in the team's walkthrough before Sunday's 4 p.m. kickoff. He's encouraged by his performance in practice. He's been able to shed blockers and hasn't endured any physical limitations despite wearing a hard cast on his right hand. Last week, he only wore a wrap around his wrist, indicating he's one step closer to playing.

"Practices have gone OK," he said. "I've got some padding on and, as you guys have seen, I've had a cast on. It takes some getting used to. It's something I have to do. That's what you do when you come back from an injury. Initially, there is going to be some adjustment you're going to have to deal with."

The real test will come when he plays his first game of the season and attempts to tackle an opposing ball-carrier without having full use of his thumb.

"We'll see once the decision is made whether I can be out there or not," Bruschi said. "I'm sure, once we see how I am on Sunday - how I feel, how I communicate to them and the decisions that the coaches and trainers make - we'll see once I'm out there."

Bruschi appeared upbeat Friday despite having to deal with his second setback in as many years. Last year, he suffered a stroke in February and missed the first six games of the season. His remarkable recovery earned him the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. He was on pace to start this year's opener at Gillette Stadium until he broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist on July 31.

"I finished the practice, then afterward I took my tape off and I was sort of thinking something was wrong with it," Bruschi said. "It was sort of throbbing a bit. I threw some ice on it and thought it was OK, but it continued to bother me. That's when I went in there and talked to (head trainer) Jimmy (Whalen) about it and he decided that we had to take a look at it a little bit closer."

Although a wrist injury pales in comparison to suffering a stroke, Bruschi took every necessary precaution to make sure he'd recover in time to help the team during the regular season. He tried to play against Buffalo, but the coaching staff decided to hold him back at least one more week.

"If you want to go through my entire body, and cite the football injuries I've had, I could go over every part," Bruschi said. "What I know is when something happens to them, you have to focus on coming back as quickly as you can. That's all I've done, and that's all I've ever done. I think in terms of coming back from injuries, I've been able to do it quicker than the next guy."

With help from the coaching staff, Bruschi altered his workout regimen to maintain his upper body strength without putting too much stress on his wrist.

"I did the best I possibly could," he said. "I think, along with our training staff, we have a great strength staff. Mike (Woicik) has had experience with these injuries also and he said, 'OK, Tedy, we have to do this,' 'We have to do that,' or, 'You can't do a certain lift, so let's do this next one that I think you can still get similar results from.'"

Bruschi's presence would allow the Patriots to move Mike Vrabel back to outside linebacker. Bruschi would play next to Junior Seau in the middle. The Patriots allowed 99 rushing yards last weekend after a sloppy first half, so they're looking for more consistency on defense against the Jets.

Bruschi's not sure whether he'll be able to play, but he now knows where to find his scaphoid bone. As long as it doesn't hurt, he'll be ready to make his 2006 debut.

"Any game to be held out of - even a preseason game and training camp practices - is tough for me," Bruschi said. "What am I faced with? What do I have in front of me? I had a broken wrist, so how do I get better the best I can? I trust Jim and his staff. I'm sure we'll go out and test it before the game, see how it is, and then we'll go from there."

The Herald News - Bruschi a game-time decision

Bruschi Makes Season Debut


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi was in the Patriots' starting lineup against the New York Jets on Sunday after missing the season opener last weekend with a broken wrist.

Bruschi broke his right wrist on the fourth day of training camp and didn't practice until Sept. 7. He was inactive for the Patriots' 19-17 victory over Buffalo last Sunday. Bruschi was the NFL's co-Comeback Player of the Year last season with Carolina's Steve Smith after playing in 10 games despite an off-season stroke.

Inactive for New England were safety Artrell Hawkins, offensive tackle Nick Kaczur, tight end Garrett Mills, wide receiver Jonathan Smith, guard Gene Mruczkowski and nose tackles Le Kevin Smith and Johnathan Sullivan.

New York starting left guard Pete Kendall was inactive after injuring a hamstring in the Jets' season-opening 23-16 win at Tennessee. Kendall was replaced on the line by Norm Katnik.

Also inactive for the Jets were wide receiver Tim Dwight, running back Cedric Houston, linebackers Trevor Johnson and Anthony Schlegel, offensive tackle Trey Teague and nose tackle C.J. Mosley.

CANOE -- SLAM! Sports - NFL: Bruschi makes season debut

Quite refreshing to have a Bruschi
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | September 18, 2006

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Linebacker Mike Vrabel shook his head in amazement when asked about the return of Tedy Bruschi in yesterday's 24-17 win over the Jets.

``Only Tedy comes back with a cast on his stinking arm and has an interception," Vrabel said. ``That's him, though. It was great to see him back."

Bruschi, who was playing for the first time since breaking his right wrist July 31, finished with six tackles, the game-sealing interception on a Hail Mary throw, and two pass deflections. He rotated with Junior Seau as the Patriots primarily played a 4-3 defense, and he wore a black cast to protect his wrist. He didn't start, making his first appearance at the beginning of the second quarter.

Bruschi said his interception was naturally ``more difficult than it would have been if I had both hands. But when you have an injury, you deal with what you have. I had to protect it a little bit, but I was still able to cradle the ball and finish the game, which was nice."

Bruschi said his black cast was a ``scaled-down version" that the team's medical staff ``tried to make as light as they could but still give support."

Players were happy to have Bruschi back on the field.

``You always get better with Tedy Bruschi," said safety Rodney Harrison. ``He's one of the best linebackers in the game and one of the best players on the team. He's definitely a leader."

Bruschi said the team yesterday relied on something the coaching staff always emphasizes -- coming through in specific situations.

``We've always been able to win close games," he said. ``I think we practice well in situational football and when the game gets close, we know what to do."

Quite refreshing to have a Bruschi - The Boston Globe


Boston Herald Sports Writer

Monday, September 18, 2006 - Updated: 09:03 AM EST

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Tedy Bruschi left Mike Vrabel shaking his head.

The linebacker returned to action in yesterday’s 24-17 victory over the Jets. Wearing a cast on his broken right wrist, Bruschi recorded six tackles (four solo), two passes defensed and a game-clinching interception on the Jets’ final play.

“Only Tedy could come back with a cast on his stinking arm and get an interception,” Vrabel marveled.

Afterward, Bruschi seemed pleased.

“I feel good,” he said. “I was able to finish the game. That’s a positive sign.”

Bruschi, a gametime decision, appeared in the middle of the Pats’ 4-3 defense with 13 minutes left in the second quarter. He made his first official tackle of the season on Derrick Blaylock’s 3-yard run at 6:16 of the quarter.

“I felt good enough to go,” Bruschi said. “It’s been long enough, so we decided to tape it up and throw me out there. Practice went good, so we took it into the game. I rotated in there with Junior (Seau), and it was great. It was nice playing again.”

His teammates recognized his presence.

“You always get better with Tedy Bruschi,” strong safety Rodney Harrison said. “He’s one of the best linebackers in the game. He’s one of the best players on the team. He’s definitely a leader. You’re always better with him on the field.”

Bruschi wore what he described as a “scaled-down” version of the cast he had sported in practice. It wasn’t a hindrance on the interception, which he corralled off a deflection.

“It was probably more difficult than it would have been if I had both hands,” Bruschi said.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi front and center in return

Parade Magazine

New York, September 21 – “I want people to know that, if I can come back after a stroke and play pro football, you can do whatever it takes to get your life back, too,” Tedy Bruschi tells PARADE magazine for this Sunday’s special Guide to Better Health issue. “I feel like it’s a victory for all stroke survivors every time I put on my uniform.”

Bruschi made one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of pro sports. His story is an inspiration to millions who have endured health setbacks and worried whether they would ever rebound. In February 2005, Bruschi awoke at 4am with a severe headache and experienced numbness in his arm and leg. He decided to tough it out and go back to sleep. “That was exactly the wrong thing to do,” he says. He woke up again a few hours later and realized that he had lost his field of vision in both eyes. After being told he suffered a stroke, Bruschi thought the neurologist at Massachusetts General was joking. “I was 31 years old, in the best shape of my life. I thought a stroke only happened to elderly people. But I learned a stroke can hit anyone at any time, and if it does, you need to get to a hospital as fast as you can.”

Bruschi really took stock of how much he’d lost. “I couldn’t even pick up my own children. I figured I’d never play football again.”

Initially, his goals were modest. Working with a physical therapist, he learned how to walk without stumbling and to throw a ball. “I tried to celebrate the small victories,” he says.

On October 30, 2005, Bruschi got clearance from his physicians and took the field as a Patriot. He made 10 tackles in a victory over Buffalo and was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year for the 2005 season.

Stroke can occur without warning, and many victims and bystanders do not recognize the early symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience sudden…

• trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
• dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
• severe headache with no known cause.
• numbness of the face, arms or legs, especially on one side.
• trouble speaking or understanding speech.

PARADE Magazine | Press Releases


Press Release:

Papa Gino’s, Home Safety Council and More Than 125 New England Fire Departments Team Up to Promote Fire Safety.

Papa Gino’s, the Dedham, Mass.-based pizza chain, and the Home Safety Council will work with more than 125 Fire Departments in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island to promote fire safety at fire department open houses throughout October -- National Fire Safety Month. To further spread the word on fire safety, Papa Gino’s tapped its celebrity spokesperson, Tedy Bruschi of the New England Patriots, to promote its fire safety program throughout the New England area. Bruschi recorded a 30-second public service announcement, which will air on radio stations throughout New England this October.


Papa Gino’s, Home Safety Council and More Than 125 New England Fire Departments Team Up to Promote Fire Safety



Consistency yields turnovers

New England Patriots

Kyle Psaty

After weeks of waiting, the Patriots defense was finally able to produce turnovers resulting in points. It seems practice and consistent play made the difference this week.

In his Monday press conference, coach Bill Belichick said he thought the team played more consistently, admitting there had been flashes of quality play in previous weeks mixed in with lower-quality play.

“I just felt we were more consistent, closer to throughout the full game than we had been in the other ones,” said Belichick. “It’s all about consistency. Anybody in this league can go out and make a play or two plays. There’s plenty of talent on the field in every team to do that, but if you want to be a good team you’ve got to sustain it play after play, week after week. That’s the big challenge.”

The Patriots defense gelled on Sunday against a Bengals offense that showcased Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Rudi Johnson, only allowing the star-studded offense to convert two of their 11 third-down attempts.

“Obviously we’ve been frustrated with our overall third down conversion percentage,” said Belichick. “We really put a lot of emphasis on it – we’ve been emphasizing it, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we just started talking about it, but we put an even heavier emphasis on it this week and I think Dean [Pees] really did a good job of taking the players and going over the situations, putting a few more plays in practice on it, getting a few more reps and trying to coordinate the pass rush and the coverage and tighten everything up so we could have it as good as we could going into the game.”

Though the players were in shorts at practice all week, it seems that’s where the difference was made.

“Everybody’s playing together. Guys did their jobs. As far as what we practiced during the week, we got it done on the field,” said Jarvis Green, who came up big with a strip-sack and subsequent fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

“It’s been a stingy year for us as far as trying to get what we want to get out on defense,” said Green, who had a career-high three sacks in the game, which pushed the Bengals back a total of 30 yards. His three sacks earned him a game ball and marked the first time any Patriots player recorded three sacks since October of 2003. “We came out and forced turnovers - the fumble. The next series Ty Warren made a big play. That was really big for us as a defense, just getting out there and getting together and causing turnovers.”

That big play by Warren was also a strip-sack, which Warren recovered for seven yards. It came on the following defensive series.

“It was more than encouraging,” said Tedy Bruschi of the turnovers. “It was outright fantastic, to put them away on the road. It really feels especially good when you win on the road, because you’ve got the atmosphere and the fans are really fired up about the game. And of course, the whole area of Cincinnati felt so great about the team at that point – they hadn’t lost a game. So, for us to come in and win a game was great.”

Bruschi led the team with seven tackles.

“We put together an entire game,” Bruschi said. “Not only did we do that, we played well up until the fourth quarter and then we were able to finished them. Being able to do that was great.”

“It was good team defense,” said Belichick. “We were able to get either just enough rush or just enough coverage to get the other part of the defense an opportunity to make the play.

“I’m happy to win. It’s tough to win in this league, tough to win on the road and certainly tough to win against a good team like Cincinnati. To be able to come out of there with a win, that’s the most important thing. I’m proud of the way the players played. They played hard for 60 minutes, all three units, and they complimented each other and were able to take advantage of opportunities. The players, they did a great job. They really did.”

Quote of note: Asked what their streak of 53 wins without consecutive losses says about the veterans and the team, Belichick seemed unsatisfied, saying, “I think what’s coming up is trying to win consecutive games. I’d really like to see if we can win two in a row here.”

Consistency yields turnovers

Papa Gino’s Launches “Crowd Pleaser” Campaign and Recognizes High School “Crowd Pleaser” Student-Athletes at New England High Schools

Building off its successful “Crowd Pleaser” campaign, Papa Gino’s has extended its program to recognize stellar high school student-athletes throughout New England. The “Crowd Pleaser” campaign which features Tedy Bruschi, a New England favorite and quintessential “crowd pleaser” will enable athletic directors in Papa Gino’s communities to nominate outstanding student-athletes. Nominated student-athletes will embody the traits that Bruschi possesses – dedicated, responsible, hard-working, caring and an overall good teammate. The “Crowd Pleaser” student-athletes will be recognized at their local Papa Gino’s, as the “Crowd Pleaser” athlete for the months of September, October and November.

Dedham, Mass. (PRWEB) October 2, 2006 -- Building off its successful “Crowd Pleaser” campaign, Papa Gino’s has extended its program to recognize stellar high school student-athletes throughout New England. The “Crowd Pleaser” campaign which features Tedy Bruschi, a New England favorite and quintessential “crowd pleaser” will enable athletic directors in Papa Gino’s communities to nominate outstanding student-athletes.

Nominated student-athletes will embody the traits that Bruschi possesses – dedicated, responsible, hard-working, caring and an overall good teammate. The “Crowd Pleaser” student-athletes will be recognized at their local Papa Gino’s, as the “Crowd Pleaser” athlete for the months of September, October and November.

Patriots grind out a win
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | October 8, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said the bottom line is points allowed, and in that case, the Patriots' defense has been on top of its game this season. No opponent has scored more than 17 points against New England's stingy `D'.

But still, something had been nagging the Patriots' prideful defenders.

``I think the biggest complaint we had about ourselves early on was that we weren't forcing turnovers," Bruschi said. ``We wanted to win that battle. It was a big goal for us."

The Patriots achieved that goal yesterday in a 20-10 victory over the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, as the defense forced three turnovers, which led to 17 points. The team also blocked a field goal and tackled Miami punter Donnie Jones when he fumbled a snap in the third quarter.

Coach Bill Belichick called the turnovers ``huge", as cornerback Asante Samuel had two interceptions and safety Rodney Harrison forced a fumble that Bruschi recovered on the Dolphins' opening possession. The Patriots, who had just one interception and two fumble recoveries entering the game, took over in Dolphins territory after each turnover.

Yesterday's victory puts the Patriots (4-1) in a commanding position in the AFC East, with the Bills (2-3), Jets (2-3), and Dolphins (1-4) all lagging behind. The Patriots have a win over each division foe this season, and improved their AFC East record to 28-7 since 2001, the best mark of any team in the NFL.

The team opened a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter before the Dolphins closed to 13-10 at halftime. But the Patriots scored the lone points of the second half after Samuel's second interception gave them the ball at the Miami 24 yard-line with 10:43 to play.

On perhaps the key play of the game, a third and 8, quarterback Tom Brady (16 of 29 for 140 yards, 2 touchdowns) lofted a pass to receiver Doug Gabriel in the right hand corner of the end zone. Dolphins cornerback Will Allen, who didn't look back for the ball, was flagged for pass interference. That gave the Patriots the ball on the 1, and Brady promptly found Heath Evans for a 1-yard TD reception on the next play.

Miami coach Nick Saban was irate at the penalty, marching down the sideline and vehemently pleading his case with the nearby official. After the game, he snapped at reporters before they could ask him his thoughts on the call, reminding them he could be fined by the league for any remarks.

The score provided the breathing room the Patriots needed, as they improved to 53-2 when holding a halftime lead with Brady at quarterback.

``We just had too many penalties [10] and turnovers to overcome it," Saban said. ``The turnovers were definitely the difference in the game. Then we got the pass interference, which broke the game open for them."

The Dolphins' first turnover came on the game's third play, when Harrison lowered the boom on running back Ronnie Brown (39 yards, 17 carries), jarring the ball loose, with Bruschi recovering at Miami's 37. That set up a 35-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, giving the Patriots a 3-0 lead just 3:21 into the contest.

With Joey Harrington (26 of 41 for 232 yards, 2 interceptions) starting at quarterback in place of the injured Daunte Culpepper, the Dolphins then marched to the Patriots' 22. The drive stalled and Olindo Mare's 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive lineman Mike Wright. Mare's plant foot slipped on the torn up playing field, much like Gostkowski's did against the Broncos Sept. 24.

The Patriots responded with a 15-play, 56-yard drive, ending in Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal with 10:13 left in the second quarter.

Then, on Miami's ensuing possession, Samuel intercepted Harrington at the Dolphins' 36 and returned it to the 10. Two plays later, Brady zipped a pass to Troy Brown in the end zone and the Patriots led, 13-0.

``I was able to beat the guy inside and [Brady] kept his eye on me and was able to put it down where he needed to put it," said Brown, who is now six catches shy of breaking the team's all-time receptions record of 534, held by Stanley Morgan.

Yet Miami gained some momentum with an 80-yard drive midway through the second quarter, culminating in Ronnie Brown's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the half. A 40-yard Mare field goal with 24 seconds left accounted for the 13-10 halftime score.

Miami advanced into the Patriots' territory three times in the second half, but came up empty each time -- first on the fumbled punt, then on a Patriots' defensive stop, and finally on a missed Mare 50-yard field goal.

After the game, several Patriots spoke about the positive momentum the team had created heading into their bye week. And almost to a man, they all agreed that turnovers were the key to yesterday's victory.

``I've been preaching about turnovers the entire year," Harrison said. ``We're starting to create some. Guys are doing a good job of flying around and getting their hands on the ball."

Patriots grind out a win - The Boston Globe


Strong as ever -- One year after returning from stroke, no one’s questioning Bruschi
By Karen Guregian
Boston Herald General Sports Reporter and Columnist

Thursday, October 12, 2006 - Updated: 08:23 AM EST

FOXBORO -- Some scars remain. That’s the best way to describe how Tedy Bruschi feels about the events of last October.

If you turn back the clock to almost exactly a year ago today, Bruschi was at the center of a storm he had no idea he would create.

The linebacker’s decision to return to the football field eight months after suffering a stroke triggered a heated and emotional debate in New England and beyond.

When he returned to practice Oct. 17, the Monday of the Patriots’ 2005 bye week, he was being hailed by some as an inspiration for stroke survivors, and criticized by others as a fool for risking his health and his future. It seemed as though everyone had an opinion about what Bruschi should, or shouldn’t do with his life.

His values and integrity were challenged. It didn’t matter how many doctors had cleared him to play. A reflective Bruschi revealed for the first time how difficult that sideshow was to deal with last year, as he was also attempting to get his life back, as he made preparations for his Oct. 30 return to game acation against Buffalo.

“Some people were critical of me for trying to come back after a stroke,” Bruschi said. “Some came into my home and criticized decisions I was making as a husband and father. That doesn’t happen a lot. It’s an entirely different type of pressure than what you have on the field.

“For me, personally, it’s something I had never dealt with, people criticizing my decision-making as a family man. That made it more difficult for me (last year). ... It’s not whether you missed a tackle or dropped the ball, you’re talking about who you are as a man, your values. You really have to be mentally tough to deal with that type of criticism.”

Today, Bruschi’s stroke is hardly mentioned anymore. The doubters and naysayers have been silenced. Bruschi has proven he can still play, and perform at a high level on the football field.

At the bye week, he is at the heart of one of the best defenses in the NFL. He’s the field general of that unit, and nearly a year to the day he confirmed he would be returning to the Patriots as an active player, he continues to be one of its most valuable assets.

On Sunday against Miami, Bruschi led the team in tackles with 10, while he also made a fumble recovery. Without question, it’s the best game he’s played this season, while being forced to wear a removeable cast on his right wrist to protect the scaphoid bone he broke in training camp. Wherever the ball went, partically when Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown had it, that’s where Bruschi seemed to be.

But the beauty and significance of Bruschi as a player really has nothing to do with statistics and numbers of tackles. It has to do with setting the defense, establishing a tone, and having an uncanny ability to make big plays at the most impactful times.

Has he reached the point of being the same player he was prior to thestroke? If not, he’s pretty darn close, but this is how he tackled the question: “The only thing wrong with me right now, is I have a brace on my wrist. I’m playing with it. That’s the only thing wrong with me.”

Bruschi continues to show his toughness and amazing resiliency. No obstacle appears too great for him to overcome.

Asked if he somehow felt vindicated by his performance in light of those who had criticized his decision to return, Bruschi initially said he never saw it that way.

“Did I have some feelings of animosity? Yes. I didn’t understand why at times I was getting criticized,” Bruschi said. “I mean, I was just trying to get my life back. As you know, there were a lot of mixed reviews. There were comments I had to deal with and push through.

“I think I knew it was going to be an evolution of how I was talked to, and how I was going to be perceived. I just plugged along because I knew I had to put my head down and continue to play football, and it would get to the point it is now. I haven’t had to address the issue in a long time.”

The topic of stroke, however, is never far from Bruschi’s mind. He’s still promoting awareness. He’s still fighting the good fight.

“I feel I have a responsibility,” he said. “At first, it was me trying to regain my life, trying to come back from stroke. But now it’s evolved for me. With my partnership with the American Stroke Association, I feel I’m someone a lot of people look at as strictly a stroke survivor who happens to be playing football, not the other way around. I’m proud of that. I’ve talked to a lot of stroke survivors. It’s something I take great pride in. It’s who I am, and what I’ve had to overcome.”

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Strong as ever -- One year after returning from stroke, no one’s questioning Bruschi

Healthy Again, Patriots Defense Looks Impressive
October 24, 2006

By ALAN GREENBERG, Courant Staff Writer FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At about 3:30 p.m. Monday, linebacker Tedy Bruschi sat on the metal folding chair, his back to the cavernous and otherwise empty Patriots locker room. Empty, that is, except for the 15 or so media members hovering in a ragged, three-deep semicircle around his stall, waiting for Bruschi to get dressed.

"Isn't anybody else around here for you guys?" Bruschi said without turning around.

At that minute, no. Which is why nearly the entire media corps had scurried in Bruschi's direction the second he appeared, a rather comical scene that occurs often in the Patriots locker room. Bill Belichick's players usually play a good game, but few stick around to talk one.

After beating the Bills 28-6 Sunday in Buffalo, the Patriots (5-1) returned home in the same place they've been all season, atop the AFC East (4-0), which they have won in four of the last five years. The exception was 2002, which is also the last time the three-time Super Bowl champions lost back-to-back games, finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

The Patriots have a 11/2-game lead over Eric Mangini's Jets, but nobody expects the Jets to seriously challenge the Patriots' AFC East reign this season.

Asked how he felt about the Patriots' play at this juncture, Bruschi said he felt encouraged because the Patriots are playing considerably better than they did early in the season - "You don't want to be playing your best ball your first two weeks," he said - and because they have rebounded impressively from their 17-7 loss to the Broncos at Gillette Stadium Sept. 24.

"I think you find your identity, first and foremost, by how you respond after you lose," Bruschi said.

One reason the Patriots respond so well?

"We've got a great work ethic," Bruschi said. "Guys here want to work."

The work of the defense has been impressive. The Patriots have allowed 80 points. Only three NFL teams - the Broncos (44), Bears (59) and Ravens (69) - have been stingier.

Given the vagaries of NFL schedule-making, it's probably unfair to compare the Patriots' stinginess to their first six games last season, when they allowed 164 points but faced a tougher schedule - the Raiders, Panthers, Steelers, Chargers, Falcons and Broncos.

Still, it's obvious that the defense is performing better than it had at this juncture last season.

A year ago, the defense was a mess. It lost Rodney Harrison, the most important player in the secondary, for the season with a knee injury Sept. 25. It lost Richard Seymour, its best lineman, with a knee injury Oct. 2. He was injured playing fullback on a short-yardage play. Seymour didn't return until Nov. 13.

And the defense also was playing without Bruschi, who sat out the first six games while recovering from a stroke. Two veteran newcomers, Monty Beisel and Chad Brown, started at inside linebacker, and their play was so spotty that Mike Vrabel had to be moved from outside linebacker to improve a shaky situation. The Patriots cut Brown and Beisel at the end of training camp this season, and while Brown was recently signed by the Steelers, Beisel is out of football.

The Patriots signed Junior Seau, 37, the former Charger and Dolphin and future Hall of Famer, Aug. 18. Seau has stayed healthy, and he and Bruschi have been a far better inside tandem than Beisel and Brown. With Harrison healthy again and playing with his former verve after a slow start, the secondary has stabilized.

The only question now is the health of Seymour, who has started every game this season but injured his left elbow with two minutes left in the first half Sunday and did not return.

Seymour, who had X-rays immediately after the game and had more tests in Boston Monday, talked briefly to the media Sunday. He was also seen carrying something in his left hand without any apparent discomfort.

But Seymour wasn't in the locker room when the media was allowed in Monday, and Belichick, as usual, declined to even hint at Seymour's status for Monday night's game against the Vikings (4-2) in Minneapolis.

Check the injury report, Belichick said, which the Patriots don't release until 4 p.m. Wednesday.

courant.com | Healthy Again, Patriots Defense Looks Impressive


Bruschi, Pats feeling Minnesota

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:24 PM CDT

Tedy Bruschi (54) and Bill Belichick are preparing to play Minnesota for the first time in a long time. (Staff photo by KEITH NORDSTROM)
FOXBORO - There is no rest for the weary, especially when you're about to play a team you haven't played in four seasons.

The DVD players have been working overtime this week in the homes of your 5-1 New England Patriots as they prepare for a team they haven't seen since 2002, the Minnesota Vikings.

It will be like blazing new ground for the Patriots when they take the field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for their first appearance on ESPN's incarnation of Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m.; ESPN and Ch. 5), and that means lots of study.

"This isn't the first day that we've dived in to start watching film," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Wednesday. "You really start early after the game of last week because you're not really familiar with a team like this."

The Patriots' last meeting with the Vikings was a 24-17 victory at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 24, 2002. Their last trip to the Metrodome was a 23-18 loss on Nov. 2, 1997, from which only two current Patriots remain - Bruschi and Troy Brown.

Hence, the heavy commitment to extra film work this week.

"It increases it a lot … especially in the film room, studying their players," Bruschi said. "You try to remember when you played against certain guys in the past. But it's different schemes and a whole different team that we haven't played in a while."

The biggest concern for the Patriots' front seven, Bruschi said, will be the running talents of the 4-2 Vikings' Chester Taylor, who has 590 yards on 137 carries and broke a 95-yarder last week at Seattle.

"I don't think he's fumbled yet," Bruschi said. "When you've got a running back like that who's doing as well as he is and doesn't cough the ball up, that's going to do good things for you offensively."

But of course, the success of a running game doesn't always rest solely upon the running back. The Vikings' offensive line is one of the strongest in the league, buoyed immensely by the offseason free-agency acquisition of 6-foot-5, 313-pound guard Steve Hutchinson from the Seahawks.

"We look at their running game, first and foremost. Taylor's one of the leading rushers in the NFL," Bruschi said. "Then you've got to look at the offensive line because of all the yards that he's gained, and you're looking at five guys that are good. It's probably one of the better offensive lines that we've faced to this point, and we know as a front seven, with a running back like that and the offensive line that they have, it's going to be a challenge to stop the run."

The Vikings' line shows up on film as controlling the line of scrimmage at the point of attack and well beyond it, the veteran linebacker said.

"It's staying on blocks … staying on blocks," Bruschi said. "They don't just try to block you and see if the running back is squirting through the line, they really look to stay on blocks and they do a good job at the second level, on linebackers and defensive backs, and that's a tribute to their athletic ability. They're able to stay with the more athletic guys down the field.

"You judge how good the offensive line is by where's the running back in terms of league leaders in rushing, and Taylor's up there as one of the top rushers in the NFL," he added. "I'm sure he would give credit to the offensive line, first and foremost, and they do deserve the credit … they've got guys like (Steve) Hutchinson, (Bryant) McKinnie and (Matt) Birk, players that have been around a while and they really are great players."

Add the supercharged atmosphere that should accompany the Vikings' first home Monday Night Football appearance in five years, and it will behoove the Patriots to be well prepared, Bruschi said.

"I just know it's a big game against a good team," he said. "They've done what a lot of teams in the NFL haven't been able to do, which is go into Seattle and win, and they're riding high right now.

"It's a Monday-night game, they've got a lot of momentum going their way, they've got a lot of players and it's going to be a tough game for us to win," he added, "so we've got to play our best."

The Sun Chronicle Online - Sports

It's a year he'll never forget
Bruschi reflects on his recovery
By Jackie MacMullan, Globe Staff | October 31, 2006

MINNEAPOLIS -- Do you remember what you were doing a year ago?

Tedy Bruschi does -- with clarity. Did you think he had forgotten? Did you think he had filed all those memories away, like snapshots in a scrapbook?

Yes, being a football player requires a mind-set that puts the past where it belongs: behind you. Devastating injuries must be conquered, then forgotten.

But what happened to Bruschi was not an injury. It was a stroke, a life-altering experience that shook him to his very core. The man who has anchored the New England linebacking corps this season -- recording 36 tackles, picking off 1 ball, and recovering 2 fumbles -- had no peripheral vision after his Feb. 15, 2004, stroke. He could not walk. His speech was impaired.

His life was impaired -- possibly for good.

Bruschi was frightened, angry, confused. He had taken impeccable care of his body. He was a team player and a team leader. He had a beautiful wife and three gorgeous young sons, and had been to his first Pro Bowl just days before he was stricken. Why him? Why?

You know his story. Bruschi defied skeptics and critics by painstakingly rehabilitating himself. While speculation ran rampant that he had played his last football game, he met with one, then two, then 10 doctors, and not one could come up with a concrete reason why he should not play again.

So, on Oct. 30, 2005 -- one year ago yesterday -- he strapped on his helmet and returned to the field against Buffalo. He played mostly on adrenaline, and, as the sports world watched and held its collective breath, he recorded 10 tackles to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. New England won the game, 21-16, and just like that, Tedy was back.

He would play the rest of the season without incident, except for a calf injury that knocked him out of the regular-season finale against the Dolphions; he dressed but was unable to play against Jacksonville in the first round of the playoffs.

His remarkable recovery soon faded from the headlines. The football world moved on from "Linebacker Returns From Stroke!" but you must understand why No. 54 never quite will move on himself.

"I haven't forgotten," he said last week. "I think about it every single day."

Where does an experience like that leave you? How does it make you feel when you look back?

" 'Blessed' would be a good word," he said. " 'Grateful' is another. And throw in 'thankful' and 'fortunate,' too. I truly am glad for every single day I have."

The stroke has changed him. He has certain responsibilities now. He decided to become a spokesman for stroke awareness. He has done public service announcements warning people not to do what he did -- ignore the symptoms of an oncoming stroke -- because it could kill you.

It could have killed Tedy Bruschi. And he never will shake that.

"I realize the magnitude of what I went through when I hear from people who have had a stroke, or had friends or relatives who had a stroke," he said. "When I hear how it affected them, then it really brings it home.

"What really gets me is when my doctors tell me of calls they've gotten from people who heard me talking about my stroke, or about stroke prevention, and because of what I've said, it convinced them to go in and see their doctors.

"When I hear someone say, 'Tedy Bruschi saved my life,' then I know this whole thing is much bigger than my own personal experience."

His resurgence is a bona fide feel-good sports story, but there's something else Bruschi hasn't forgotten: the number of pundits and so-called experts who vilified him for returning to the field. Some expressed concern for his health, others questioned his wisdom, and still others went further, claiming he was selfish, exhibiting a complete disregard for his family.

The accusations hurt and angered him. His family was everything to him. How dare they question his motives?

"I remember the names," he said, with an unmistakable flash of anger. "I remember what they said. Am I able to look at them in the eye now, when they come to my locker and ask me questions? Yes, I am able to, because I'm a professional.

"But I have not forgotten what they said. I will never forget what they said."

As the Patriots prepared for the Minnesota Vikings last week, they were reminded that Bruschi's one-year anniversary of his return to the game was approaching. Rosevelt Colvin, who suffered a gruesome dislocated hip that nearly derailed his career and kept him out of the game for nearly a full season, said, "That's funny. No one ever talks about that in here anymore.

"When something that dramatic happens to you, you get over it, but it never goes away. You have no choice but to sit down and take a good hard look at the rest of your life, because football might be over."

Upon his return in 2004, Colvin insisted he was the same as before his injury. Yet now, nearly two years later, he concedes that wasn't exactly the case.

"The first year back is an adjustment," he said. "You're trying too hard to get back into the game, to be back where you were before anything happened, but that takes time.

"Same with Tedy. He played really well for us last season. But you look at him this year, and he just looks more comfortable. Tedy is Tedy again. And that's great news for us."

Linebacker Don Davis counts Bruschi among his most trusted teammates. He prayed for Bruschi when he was stricken, and continued to pray for him once he returned to the field.

"A year? Has it really been that long?" said Davis. "The fact that he has recovered in such a short time is a true testament to Tedy. I have to be honest. I didn't know if he'd come back from [the stroke] at all."

Davis said he remembers exactly how he felt one year ago, when Bruschi put on his uniform and joined the defense in the huddle.

"I was very apprehensive," Davis said. "I never told him that at the time. I just supported him, told him I was pulling for him.

"But, halfway through the season, after he had been back a few weeks, I told him, 'Hey buddy, I had my doubts.' He knew. I'm sure he could see it in our eyes.

"But he really wanted to test it out. If you ask me, he started out taking way too many reps, but he made it through, thank God.

"And now look at him."

Last night, Tedy Bruschi assumed his customary spot in the starting lineup for the 31-7 win over the Vikings. He is recovering from surgery on his wrist, which is still swollen and sore.

"But that's nothing," he said. "Nothing at all."

It's a year he'll never forget - The Boston Globe



Fatherhood awards to be given Nov. 13

NEW BEDFORD — Southcoast Hospitals' Responsible Attitudes toward Pregnancy, Parenting & Prevention program has announced the second annual Heart of Fatherhood local award winners and honorary award recipient New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
Ticket sales have been opened to the public to honor Bruschi and the 12 recipients at the awards dinner ceremony from 6-10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at the Hawthorne Country Club, 970 Tucker Road, North Dartmouth.
The dinner is presented by Bristol County Savings Bank and sponsored by Shields MRI. The dinner is open to all ages and includes light hors d'oeuvres followed by a full course dinner reception of prime rib or baked stuffed chicken.
Seating is limited, so prompt ticket purchase is suggested. Tickets cost $75 for adults and can be purchased by calling (508) 994-0548, at the Southcoast RAPPP Family Education Youth Resource Center, Dartmouth Place, Pequot Building, No. 105, 49 State Road, Route 6, North Dartmouth, or online at www.southcoast.org. Proceeds benefit the Southcoast RAPPP program.

SouthCoastToday.com - Fatherhood awards to be given Nov. 13 - November 01, 2006


Notes and Quotes


Tedy on the Colts:


"You can't give them anything," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "You can't give the Colts anything because they are an offense that can get plenty on their own. When you give them gifts [penalties], especially when you [seem to] have third-down stops, it just keeps their drives going. You have to play more clean than that. That is something that we have prided ourselves on, to not get penalties and turnovers, and both of those things didn't go well for us."



Tedy Bruschi Conference Call Transcript - 11/8/2006 New England Patriots

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi addresses the New York media during a conference call on November 8, 2006.

On the Jets' offense...

There's definitely the big play possibility, especially with Cotchery and Coles. They had a couple of big plays against us the last time we played, so we know that they have ability and we respect that ability for the big play. (They have) an offensive line that has a couple of great young players in Nick Mangold and (D'Brickashaw) Ferguson. We believe that they have the potential to put a lot of points on the board and the second half of our game, that last we played them, was indicative of them. Also we're looking at the things they were able to do the last time and we know the big play is something that they can definitely complete.

On what they were able to learn about the Jets after the second half of their previous game...

This team (the Jets) doesn't quit. This team will keep playing you for all four quarters, whether it is on special teams or offense or defense. They play the whole game in its entirety. We had a big lead on them and they were still able to make some plays that put them back in the game and in a position to win the football game at the end of the fourth quarter. We respect that. Eric Mangini is doing a great job of preparing his team, of instilling an attitude in his team, that if you just keep playing good, sound, solid football, good things can happen. Our last game with them was indicative of that, where they just kept playing and playing and made some big plays and all of a sudden it's a ball game.

On getting the sense that Coach Belichick was mad at Coach Mangini...

I'm not into all that drama. I don't get myself involved with it. I don't care to comment about it. How I feel about Eric Mangini is I believe he was a great coach when he was here and I'm going to leave it at that.

On the first-year adjustment to the 3-4 defense...

There are different techniques that you have to get used to. The one thing that players like (Jonathan) Vilma and (Eric) Barton have is a good coach that can really coach them up on the differences of the 4-3 to the 3-4 in Eric Mangini. He did a great job of that here, he wasn't just involved with the coverage aspects of our defense, he was involved with the front also and he did a great job of relaying information on how to play different defenses. I think he's doing the same thing there, that's why they're having a better year then in years past.

On being an undersized 3-4 linebacker...

I don't think size is an issue. If you have, first and foremost, a good front seven, it's not just one guy out there, if you have a good cast around you, a good defensive line and you trust the techniques that you're taught, there are variations you can use if you're a bigger guy or a little guy.

On the importance of defensive line in the 3-4...

(The defensive line) is the linebacker's best friend, especially in the 3-4 defense. There are a few that we have up front that really get the job done for us, in (Vince) Wilfork, (Richard) Seymour and (Ty) Warren. That's what we try to do, we try to play team defense across the line with the front seven and it starts with the guys upfront.

On Tom Brady being dangerous after a sub-par performance a week ago...

Everyone in this locker realizes the defeat we had last week and we want to get back on track. We've tried to overemphasis our focus this week on getting back on track and trying to get a victory within our division again.

On not having Rodney Harrison for this week's game...

Guys have to step up. We always pride ourselves on when one guys goes down, someone else has to come in and do the job. Losing Rodney is a big loss for us; he's a guy who did a lot of things for us. We have to move on and worry about the Jets right now and whoever is going to be in there for him, they have to do the job.

On Leon Washington...

He's doing a great job. He's a guy that is going to be difficult to tackle. He has nifty moves; he's really helped that offense out a lot.

On Jonathan Vilma studying him to learn the 3-4...

I haven't talked to Jonathan, but I've seen him on film. There isn't just one way to play it (the 3-4), there are different variations that you can play and he's developing his own style of playing inside on a 3-4. As you continue to play in the 3-4, you start to develop a familiarity of what you can do and what you can't and that something he's done a good job with.

On the inside linebacker position being the hardest to adjust to in the 3-4...

Eric Mangini did a good job when he was here, I'm sure he's helping them out, with communicating the differences from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Once that gets communicated, I think any linebacker can get it done. Time helps also, you have to get the reps, you have to see things differently and as time goes on you get better at it. That's the way my career has gone.

 Tedy Bruschi Conference Call Transcript - 11/8/2006



November 10, 2006 -- Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who played in Eric Mangini's defense for New England, said he sees impressive characteristics of mental toughness in the Jets that are a reflection of Mangini's coaching.

"This team doesn't quit," Bruschi said of the Jets, who face the Patriots on Sunday. "This team will keep playing you for all four quarters, whether it is on special teams or offense or defense. They play the whole game in its entirety. We had a big lead on them (24-0, Week 2) and they were still able to make some plays that put them back in the game and in a position to win the football game at the end of the fourth quarter. We respect that. (The Jets lost, 24-17).

"Eric Mangini is doing a great job of preparing his team, of instilling an attitude in his team, that if you just keep playing good, sound, solid football, good things can happen. Our last game with them was indicative of that, where they just kept playing and playing and made some big plays and all of a sudden it's a ballgame."



Heavy hitters
By Gary D’Amato/ Daily News Correspondent
Monday, November 20, 2006
- Updated: 04:00 AM EST

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Tedy Bruschi made the hit heard round the National Football League yesterday, and the funny thing was, he didn’t even know it.

Bruschi teamed with fellow linebacker Tully Banta-Cain to sack Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre with 1:51 left in the first half of the Patriots’ 35-0 victory at Lambeau Field.

It was a solid hit, but not a bone-crusher. Banta-Cain had Favre’s legs wrapped up, and Bruschi finished the play by driving the QB into the turf.

Bruschi got up and walked back to the huddle. He had no idea he had knocked Favre out of the game with an injured right elbow.

"I saw what all of you saw," Bruschi said. "I got the hit and went back to the huddle. I tried to get the defense and I noticed a lull in the action, and I saw the officials over there. I was just trying to get him down on the ground and gave him a shot."

Favre threw a few short passes on the sideline just after halftime, but never went back into the game. He was unavailable for comment afterward.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Favre felt weakness in his hand and described the injury as a shot on the nerve.

"As far as the future, how bad it is, I’d be speculating," McCarthy said.

Yesterday’s game marked the 231st consecutive start (251 including playoff games) for the 37-year-old Favre, extending his NFL record for quarterbacks.

Bruschi was reminded of Favre’s streak when he glanced up at the scoreboard before the game and saw highlights of Super Bowl XXXI.

"It hurt me to see some of those ’96 Super Bowl highlights they were showing because I was a part of that game," Bruschi said.

So was Favre, who led the Packers to a 35-21 victory in New Orleans. Nearly 10 years later, the quarterback still hasn’t missed a start in a streak that dates to 1992.

"Believe me, I’m out there taking hits, but I see hits quarterbacks take, too," Bruschi said. "He’s been in this league a long time, before they protected quarterbacks the way they do now.

"I’ve seen him take a lot of hits. He’s been doing it for a long time, and it’s very impressive what he’s been able to do."

Operating out of the shotgun, Favre dropped back to pass, felt pressure and tried to elude the rush, but Banta-Cain grabbed his legs. As Favre tried to twist out of his grasp, Bruschi came in and unloaded.

For only the sixth time in his career, Favre was not able to complete a start due to injury.

"It’s a difficult situation," said Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, "but you wish the best for him."

Favre struggled before he was knocked out of the game, completing only 5-of-15 passes for 73 yards. Backup Aaron Rodgers fared just as poorly, completing 4-of-12 for 32 yards.

"We wanted to get their timing off," Banta-Cain said. "The corners were doing well on press coverage, making it hard for them to get open, so (Favre) really had to force a lot of his throws. I think that’s what led to him maybe being off a little bit early, because we had great coverage on those guys."

Bruschi added, "I don’t know what he injured, but I just hope he’s all right."


MetroWestDailyNews.com - Sports Coverage: Heavy hitters


BEAR TRAP: Pats’ defense saves the day, but personnel losses pile up

by Eric McHugh
The Patriot Ledger

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi went down and stayed down, and the chant quickly went up.

‘‘Ted-EE! Ted-EE!’’ the crowd at Gillette Stadium called out in unison, trying to will their hero up from the plush new FieldTurf on which he lay, somewhat crumpled, with about seven minutes left in a seven-point game the New England Patriots absolutely had to have.

The power of positive, group thinking worked. Bruschi shook off whatever was ailing him and jogged off the field.

‘‘It was like I was (a professional wrestler),’’ Bruschi said of the crowd’s urging. ‘‘It was nice, and the fans fired me up a little bit. It was just a case where I got dinged up a little bit and I was taking inventory.

‘‘Our fans come up with clever cheers, and their timing is real clever.’’

The fans also had showered Junior Seau with love as he left the field in the second quarter. While Seau acknowledged the cheers with a wave of his left arm, it was hard not to focus on his right one - the one encased in a temporary cast.

After 17 years in the NFL, he might have been waving goodbye, for good.

The Patriots’ two starting inside linebackers met much different fates in yesterday’s rock ’em-sock ’em, 17-13 victory over the Chicago Bears. In a game that was all about defense and turnovers (nine combined, five by the Patriots, plus three interceptions by Asante Samuel), Bruschi was able to live to fight another day, but Seau wasn’t.

Reaching out to tackle Bears running back Cedric Benson in the second quarter, Seau, 37, came up holding his right wrist in agony. As the Patriots’ medical staff bounded onto the field, Seau’s teammates knelt in a prayer circle nearby - a sure indication that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill ‘Ow-ie.’

In making the stop, Seau’s forearm was pinned between his chest and the back of Benson’s right leg as Seau crashed to the ground. As he knelt on the field, his forearm appeared to be bent at a grotesque angle.

The Patriots (8-3) were typically closed-mouthed on Seau’s status. But reading between the lines, it was hard not to think that the team’s second-leading tackler (69 stops coming into the game, one behind Bruschi) was done. Coach Bill Belichick tried to be evasive but acknowledged, ‘‘if he’s not able to play, we’ll miss him going forward.’’ And Bruschi at one point used the past tense in talking about Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler who stunned the NFL by ending a brief retirement this summer to take aim at that elusive first Super Bowl ring.

‘‘When Junior stays down on the ground,’’ Bruschi said, ‘‘even for a little bit of time, you know something’s wrong with him because he’s so tough. So tough ... It’s a tough injury ... We’re going to have to see how it plays out here ...’’

Bruschi’s voice then trailed off.

The Patriots really didn’t need this. Their linebacking corps, such a jumbled mess at times last season with the failed Monty Beisel/Chad Brown experiment and Bruschi’s delayed return from an offseason stroke, had been humming along smoothly this year. Seau had proven to be a terrific addition, and everyone in the locker room raved about his infectious enthusiasm, as well as his surprisingly sturdy play.

But his bad luck struck again. After playing in 13 or more games in each of his first 14 seasons, he suited up for only 15 total in his last two years in Miami. Now the injury bug has bitten again - hard.

‘‘That’s a big blow, man,’’ said linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, who subbed in for Seau, ‘‘because he’s such an emotional stalwart on the team and he has so much wisdom and energy that he brings to the game.’’

With Seau out, the Patriots used Banta-Cain outside and bumped Mike Vrabel inside, where he spent much of last season. Banta-Cain has had his moments in sub packages this year (3.5 sacks); now he seems poised for a starting gig.

‘‘Yeah, if that’s what the scenario ends up being,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m ready as I’m going to be. I’ve gotten some playing time. I’m confident that I can get the job done.’’

The new-look alignment did not pay immediate dividends against the Bears, who limited the Patriots to one sack (by Richard Seymour) and gouged them with the run, rushing 36 times for 153 yards - the most the Patriots had given up on the ground since the Broncos hit them for 178 in the sixth game of the 2005 season.

Asked if he was surprised at how well Chicago ran the ball, defensive end Ty Warren said, ‘‘Not really ... Well, yeah, I was surprised. We had Junior go down and we had to change personnel. They tried to take advantage of that.’’

Bruschi said the new/old look can work because of Vrabel’s ability to switch back inside. That was a brand new role for Vrabel last year and he eventually handled it flawlessly, leading the team with a career-high 114 tackles. He was tied for third on the list this season with 64 stops entering yesterday’s game.

‘‘As the game went on, (Vrabel) was talking about how (playing inside linebacker ) was starting to come back to him,’’ Bruschi said. ‘‘You have to do a little extra communication and make sure he’s got his assignment correct and then double-check it.

‘‘But he’s the smartest football-knowledge guy on this team, if you ask me. He can do that.’’

Seau’s injury comes at a time when the secondary is badly understaffed. Strong safety Rodney Harrison missed his third straight game with a broken shoulder blade, and free safety Eugene Wilson (hamstring) has sat out five straight and seven of the last eight. Cornerback/safety Chad Scott (groin) joined them on the inactive list yesterday, meaning Troy Brown once again saw action as the nickel back.

Luckily, Samuel returned to the lineup after sitting out last week’s victory in Green Bay with a sore knee. He responded with a career day, one he capped by picking off a Rex ‘‘Go Long’’ Grossman bomb intended for Rashied Davis with 1:46 remaining. That came one play after Corey Dillon coughed up a questionable fumble as the Patriots tried to run out the clock.

It was the defense to the rescue this day. Even though the Patriots were flagged for two long pass interference penalties - 45 yards against Artrell Hawkins and 30 yards against Ellis Hobbs - they made Grossman (15 of 34, 176 yards, 3 interceptions) look bad and shut out deep threat Bernard Berrian (5 catches for 104 yards) in the second half.

Still, Bruschi, ever the perfectionist, wants more - injuries or not.

‘‘I know the offense isn’t happy at all about the turnovers they had,’’ he said. ‘‘And defensively, you let offenses off the hook when you give them a 30-yard pass interference penalty or something like that. In late November and early December, those are the things that have to vanish.’’

Just like a certain famous linebacker.

Eric McHugh may be reached at emchugh@ledger.com .

Copyright 2006 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Monday, November 27, 2006

BEAR TRAP: Pats’ defense saves the day, but personnel losses pile up

Notes and Quotes

On Chicago:

"Chicago likes to take their shots down the field," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "That's the way they play. They pound you, and they take their chances."

Then Bruschi tried to put the day's events in total perspective.

"A lot of people see a lot of good," he said. "We scraped and we won. But we see turnovers and penalties and that we're not playing our best football."

On Junior Seau:

Junior is a big loss," said fellow inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "He is a guy who has come in here and picked up the system real well and is well liked by a lot of guys. To see him go down like that, it hurts the team and the locker room a little bit. He is going to be missed greatly."

He's recognized as a force
Vrabel shrugs off late injury
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | December 4, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Tedy Bruschi got an arm around Mike Vrabel, his fellow linebacker and recent recipient of a vicious knee to the head from an onrushing Lion, and gently steered him toward the Patriots sideline. He had an important question to ask, and wanted to make sure his dazed friend wasn't veering off in the direction of the opposition: "Nice pick," Bruschi said. "Do you know my name?"

"I will always know who Tedy is," Vrabel said with a smile after New England's 28-21 win over Detroit.

Able to laugh and even joke in the locker room after the game, Vrabel appeared to have shaken off the hit, which occurred after he had come down with his second interception of the game -- tying a career high -- on a ball Lions quarterback Jon Kitna appeared to just fling in the air on the first play after the two-minute warning.

"I got my bell rung," Vrabel said. "Guy got me in the head with his knee. I just remember the ball in the air and then being in the locker room. I think we got good pressure on the passer. He threw it up for grabs and I tried to go up and get it and tried to come down and save the ball and keep possession."

A stunned crowd and equally stunned teammates watched in silence as Vrabel lay curled on the ground at the Lions' 35-yard line. He had just sealed the game, but it seemed no one realized anything beyond the injury that had felled the versatile linebacker. He limped off the field, with Bruschi's aid, and all that was left for the Patriots to do was to take a knee -- and find out how badly Vrabel was injured.

Not too badly, it turned out, as Richard Seymour finally discovered when he saw him after the game. Vrabel was in the locker room at 4:30, got dressed, and appeared to be walking and talking normally as he answered questions.

That's good for the Patriots -- not just for the sake of Vrabel -- because, after the season-ending injury to Junior Seau against the Bears, the team has a sharp drop-off after the four starting linebackers. Past Bruschi, Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin, and Tully Banta-Cain stand Pierre Woods, Don Davis, and Larry Izzo, who have made their names primarily as a special teams players.

New England cannot afford to lose another player at the position. Especially not Vrabel, who has been able to adapt back to the inside spot he manned in the absence of Bruschi last year, trading his sacks for interceptions.

"I don't know if there's another player around that can really go from outside linebacker to inside linebacker like he can," Bruschi said. "Incredible football knowledge coupled with athletic ability. That's what he is. For him to be able to do that, outside and inside, they're two different worlds. I think he may be the only person in the league who can do that."

Or certainly one of a very few.

It was a point made even more apparent with his two interceptions, both of which came at crucial moments of the fourth quarter. After the Patriots tied the score at 21 with 8:35 to go, Vrabel stole a pass from Kitna on the second play of the ensuing Lions drive. Kitna's 21-yard pass had opened their possession, bringing the Lions to the New England 49-yard line. It was then that Vrabel crossed over the middle of the field, the ball coming straight into his arms, though it had been intended for tight end Dan Campbell.

But the ball would go back to the Lions after a Benjamin Watson fumble. And back to the Patriots after a Colvin strip sack. Then, once Tom Brady marched the Patriots to the touchdown that would win the game, Vrabel came up with his second interception, the one that left him down and his teammates fearful.

"We can't lose a player like Mike," safety Artrell Hawkins said. "He had a huge game today. Just one of those guys, he's a leader on and off the field. I was scared when he went down. He made a great play, he got hurt on a great play. Yeah, it was a scary moment, but he's fine."

He's recognized as a force - The Boston Globe


Indomitable Bruschi always moving forward
By Jason Lieser
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 07, 2006

DAVIE — Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known for his ability to replace players who leave his system.

The offensive players expected to start against the Dolphins on Sunday averaged nine starts for New England last season. The average defensive player has made a little more than two seasons' worth of starts for the Patriots.

As Dolphins coach Nick Saban pointed out, however, the Patriots have kept their core players together, and few have been as crucial to New England's success as linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

"When he's there, you can tell a difference from when he's not there," Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael said. "He's real fiery and he gets those guys lined up. He tells them to shut up. It doesn't matter who it is. He gets in their face and they respect that."

Bruschi, who suffered a stroke in Feb. 2005, embodies the feisty spirit of a New England defense that ranks third in points allowed (13.8 per game) and ninth in yardage (293.0).

"Nothing's going to change who I am," Bruschi, 33, said by phone Wednesday. "I've jumped around on the sideline before. I'm always smiling out there and having fun. I'm intense and it's just who I am."

After topping 125 tackles in 2003 and 2004, Bruschi recorded 72 tackles in nine games last season. This year, he is second on the Patriots with 55 stops.

At 6-foot-1, 247 pounds, Bruschi is somewhat bigger than Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas (5-11, 228 pounds), but both have developed a reputation for delivering hits that usually come from much larger players.

"It's just 54." McMichael said, referring to the jersey number shared by Bruschi and Thomas. "The thing about Bruschi is he's just tough as nails. Real tough, real smart and rarely will you find him out of position."

Comparisons to Thomas are flattering for Bruschi, who counts himself among the Miami linebacker's fans.

"You learn to appreciate the guys in your division," Bruschi said. "But probably the person I like watching most is Zach because wherever the ball is, Zach is."

Even in the context of his four 100-tackle seasons, a 2004 Pro Bowl appearance and coming up with big Super Bowl performances, Bruschi's most important attribute might be his ability to adapt to and steady the Patriots' ever-changing defense. Bruschi has played with 14 different starting linebackers since 2000, and has more career starts for the Patriots (107) than fellow starters Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin and Tully Banta-Cain combined (104).

"With players coming in and coming out, you get different mentalities and different skill sets," Bruschi said. "We're just pushing on and ... that also comes into effect when we think of players that we've lost here in the past in terms of free agency or injuries.

"We look upon the next person to say 'You're the guy that has to help us and we've got to move on with you.' ''

The way Bruschi recounts it today, the mind-set of pressing forward also is what helped him bounce back from the stroke.

"I've made plays before, I've made plays after," he said. "If you've watched me throughout my career, I'm not different now than I was before."

Indomitable Bruschi always moving forward


Pats help kids with holiday shopping
By Tyler Reed
Wednesday, December 06, 2006 - Updated: 01:05 AM EST

FRAMINGHAM - New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour preferred the cute purple boots to the tough brown ones.
``Let me see you walk down there and walk back,'' the 310-pound team captain said to his shopping companion, 10-year-old Loretta Morgan, after she had tried one on.
Morgan was skeptical at first, but eventually came around.
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi had less success than his teammate.
``I'm getting a lot of shake-offs,'' he said as he picked out hooded sweatshirts and held them up for 13-year-old Keana Lynch to see.
Lynch had already half-filled her shopping cart with clothes, including a blue Red Sox coat.
``We support all teams,'' Bruschi said.
Bruschi, Seymour and 17 other Patriots were at Bob's Store in Framingham last night helping a group of around 25 Boston children each on a $300 shopping spree.
The ``Shop with a Jock 2006'' event gave the children from the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury a special treat during the holiday season.
``Me and my wife are just trying to give back to where we came from,'' said defensive lineman Ty Warren, who with his wife, Kesha, helped organize the event.
Warren said he played his first organized sports in a Boys & Girls Club in Texas.
Warren's 1st and Goal Foundation, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and Bob's Stores put up the money for the event.
``This is probably the best thing that's going to happen to them all year,'' said Andrea Swain, executive director of the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club.
Patriots players Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison, Rosevelt Colvin and Ben Watson were also in the store, which did not close during the event.
Wide receiver Doug Gabriel sorted through pink T-shirts with 8-year-old Fatima Sillah.
Tackle Wesley Britt helped 10-year-old Blessing Ojini settle on some sneakers. Boots were next, ``then I'm going to get some clothes,'' Ojini said.
She looked up at Britt, who is 6-feet-8-inches tall and weighs 320 pounds, and said, ``I might want to give him some fashion advice.''

TownOnline.com - The MetroWest Daily News

December 9, 2006
Bruschi, Thomas just two of a kind
Fiery players inspire Pats, Dolphins


Rustle up a list of the most athletically gifted linebackers in the NFL today and Tedy Bruschi wouldn't come close to cracking the top 10.

Look for the top playmakers at that position this decade and the New England Patriots veteran has to rank right up there.

"I'm faster, stronger -- everything -- than him, but he makes plays," Miami Dolphins second-year linebacker Channing Crowder said of Bruschi.

"He's a (Bill) Belichick guy. He knows the system and he's smart as hell. And he's a Pro Bowler. He's a great player."

Bruschi has helped Belichick -- New England's coach -- to three Super Bowl titles. And while the 11-year veteran has only been voted to one Pro Bowl in his career, he is generally regarded as one of the key pieces of the Patriots' defense.

New England (9-3) will visit Dolphin Stadium on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

"One thing about Bruschi, you don't really see it until you're out there playing with him, he's fiery," Miami tight end Randy McMichael said. "He gets those guys lined up. He tells them to shut up. It doesn't matter who it is. He gets in their face and they respect that. You've got to take your hat off to a guy like that. . . . You can tell there's a difference when he's not there."

The reverence Dolphins players have for Bruschi is only elevated by the knowledge he is continuing to play at a high level despite having a stroke after helping New England win its third Super Bowl title in 2004. Bruschi missed the first six games of 2005, but . . . it's not like he was out with a knee injury or something.

Having that stroke changed the 33-year-old's outlook on life.

"Yeah, when I had my stroke, I thought I had a good outlook on life before, but with that you just learn to appreciate everything," Bruschi said. "A stroke is something where you wake up one day and you're one person, and the next day, you get no warning, you're different. It affected me tremendously, and at some point I thought it would take my career away and change my life, and it did that.

"It changed my life to where I look at it now and I'm appreciative of everything that I have and everything that's going on in my life. I think that should be a mentality everyone sort of has and the sort of mentality I had even before my stroke, but I think it sort of accentuated to me just how fun it is to live life."

Bruschi leads the Patriots with 82 tackles. He has helped create seven defensive touchdowns for New England since 2002, including four interceptions he took to the end zone himself. He has also forced two fumbles that were returned for scores and tipped another pass that was picked off and taken back for a touchdown.

And while Dolphins players have the utmost respect for him, they also see someone who they feel is like Bruschi in many ways. And not just because Zach Thomas also wears No. 54.

"They're both short, white, compact dudes, man," McMichael joked.

Bruschi is listed at 6-foot-1, 247 pounds. But that's big compared to Thomas, who checks in officially at 5-11, 228.

By comparison, San Diego's Shawne Merriman is 6-4, 272 and Chicago's Brian Urlacher is 6-4, 258.

"Every time people meet Zach, the first thing they say to me is, 'That's Zach Thomas? He looks like he's 5-6. He must weigh 180 pounds,' " Crowder laughed.

"I'm always like, 'Yeah, OK, well you go line up and carry the ball and see if he don't knock the hell out of you.' Zach's a guy . . . Bruschi's probably the same way up in Boston. People see him and are just amazed he plays so big. I have a lot of respect for guys like that. I'm not 5-6, 180."

And while McMichael has seen Bruschi yell at his own teammates, he cracked that Thomas is so intense, he'll yell at anybody -- players, coaches, trainers . . . it doesn't seem to matter.

But there is also no question both guys are in control of their huddle and extremely focused.

"Zach gets zoned out," Crowder smiled. "He calls the plays, but you can't talk to him.

I'll try to like break it down. Me and him are 2-on-1 on the back, and I'll be like, 'Hey, Zach, me and you.' And then 10 seconds later, he'll be . . . 'What?!'

"'Never mind, buddy.'

"I'm real level-headed. I can sit and talk. Between series, me and Truck (Keith Traylor) sit like this and talk and play around, make fun of people in the stands -- all kinds of crazy stuff. But Zach's a zoned-out guy. You just kind of leave him alone and let him do what he does. He's been doing it what, 12, 13 something years now. Let him do what works."

Thomas is actually in his 11th season and leads the NFL with 116 tackles. It is the 11th time in his career he has had at least 100 tackles.

As a biased teammate, Crowder believes Thomas is better -- and more athletically gifted -- than Bruschi.

All Thomas and Bruschi will attest to is that there is a mutual respect for one another.

"I came out the same year (1996) as him," Thomas said. "We made our All-American trips together. He was a defensive end coming out of college and then they made that move to linebacker. He just makes plays. For him to come back (from the stroke), I was happy for him because he's a great player. He plays with heart, and he's a smart football player."


Inside friendship
LBs Bruschi, Vrabel have a special bond
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | December 10, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Three weeks into his Patriots career, Mike Vrabel was already a tattletale.

Tedy Bruschi had slipped in a drill in which he was supposed to drop into coverage, which wouldn't have been a problem, except the coaches thought Vrabel had erred. And Vrabel, the newcomer in a veteran linebacker group that also included Willie McGinest and Ted Johnson, made sure the coaches knew it wasn't him.

"He was steaming, like I had sold him out to the coaches or something for him slipping," Vrabel said, with a laugh. "We always kind of go back to that point. He won't let me live that down."

Said Bruschi, "He caught on pretty quick about how tight-knit we are here. His little baptism by fire."

Vrabel, who never started a game in his four years in Pittsburgh, arrived in Foxborough with little indication that he would blossom into a team captain and mainstay. Bruschi, meanwhile, already had found his place in the Patriots defense, starting every game for two seasons and working his way into the hearts of New Englanders.

Vrabel and his wife, Jen, had come to Boston unsure of what to expect. Jen hadn't been completely comfortable in Pittsburgh, feeling she and Mike were in a different place than many of the other families on the Steelers.

But the Patriots were different. The Bledsoes reached out to the Vrabels, as did a number of the other couples on the team.

But, among all of them, the Bruschis -- Tedy and Heidi -- stood out. Still do.

"I think everybody would consider a teammate a friend, but then I think that you have people that you know a lot better and really can rely on," Vrabel said. "You can't rely on 60 guys to say, 'Hey, I've got this going on,' or 'What would you do here?' Tedy is certainly at the top of the list of who I would go to."

Not that it's all sunshine and rainbows around the linebackers. The two, like any fast friends, still have the occasional kink to work out in a tight relationship that has them spending long hours with each other. Or, as Jen said, "A lot of their friendship I don't think Heidi and I get to see. They're together every day for hours and road trips. He's with Tedy more than he sees the kids or me."

That's usually good. But not always.

"The way he's able to keep things light around here, it's really something that makes it fun to come to work," Bruschi said, before adding, with a laugh, "Then, at the same time, sometimes he gets on my nerves.

"That's friendship. It's not going to be a lovefest the whole time. Sometimes I feel like punching him in the face. I don't know if he feels the same way about me sometimes, but that's the way it goes."

Family relationship
As lighthearted and laugh-filled as the relationship can be -- witness the podium Bruschi recalled pushing in front of Vrabel's locker after a 2003 game against the Browns in which Vrabel had a career-high three sacks -- their bond runs much deeper.

When Bruschi suffered a stroke shortly after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl and wasn't sure he'd ever feel the camaraderie of a locker room again, he shared his feelings with few people. Vrabel was one of them.

"When I was coming back from my stroke, he was the guy that I would talk to, would confide in," Bruschi said. "One of my close friends. [He] would help me deal with a lot of things I had to deal with coming back.

"I would say it's unique because it isn't everyone on the team that you'd say post-football-world you'd still be in contact with. But definitely, Mike and Jen Vrabel are two people that my family will still be in contact with."

While the families don't see each other as often as they used to -- even as often as last year -- they already have a dinner planned for this week. It's hard, Jen said, with kids and work and school and everything crashing down on them, easier to visit with friends in their neighborhood than make the drive from Easton to North Attleborough to see each other, especially after Vrabel and Bruschi have already spent hours together in meetings and practices.

That changes nothing, though.

"I know Mike and Tedy are inseparable," said Jen, who sits with Heidi at home games. "They're not so much alike. Mike's, I think, the goofball. I don't know if it's that they're different. I think Tedy holds back Mike from being too obnoxious at meetings. [Mike] just really respects him.

"I think they get a kick out of each other."

They seem to think so, too. And even though visits during the season have dwindled this year, Bruschi has found the time to travel to Ohio twice to visit Vrabel, and golf trips to Florida and a Tom Brady-sponsored Kentucky Derby trip last year are highlights from their list. When the pads are off, the bonding -- and the ribbing -- really begins.

"We play golf in April, so everybody's terrible," Vrabel said (though Bruschi said Vrabel's game is much better than his). "Everybody's ultracompetitive, but everybody is terrible because nobody has played. I don't play golf in Ohio leading up to April, and he doesn't play golf up here. We all get together and we're all very excited about playing golf in Florida, but everybody's terrible. We're all sunburnt and tired and miserable, but we're having a good time."

It's not just their golf trips or pranks, it's their talks; the ones that range from football to family -- Vrabel has two sons, Bruschi three, all around the same age -- to sports to plans past retirement. They lead to the pipe dream, the one with a hint of reality, in which the pair ponder the fun of being head coach and assistant together at one of their alma maters, though it would be mighty hard to pull the Vrabels to Tucson -- "too hot," Mike says -- or the Bruschis to Columbus.

They talk of the latest Christmas presents to the best ways to raise kids to be unaffected by the wealth of their fathers.

And, most important, it's their honesty with each other.

"He can joke with me about certain things that other people can't," Bruschi said. "That's the type of relationship we have. Certain things I'm real serious about and friends don't joke with me about. I give him leeway that I don't give to other people.

"I think that it's easier for me and for him to tell me if I was wrong on a certain play. Even when I'm right, he can tell me I was wrong and I'll accept that. I can do the same with him. We can be blunt with each other."

Totally in synch
Now in their sixth season together, the linebackers have grown to the point where their communication on the field mirrors their communication off it.

"I think that relationship has become almost like an eye-contact thing," Vrabel said. "This year, moving back inside, we still got that same communication and that same kind of look. You've got the back, I've got the tight end, or however it's going to go. There's not a whole lot of conversation that needs to go on to get our point across."

Squarely in the middle of a group of veteran linebackers -- each of the current starters, Vrabel, Bruschi, Rosevelt Colvin, and Tully Banta-Cain, has been with the Patriots for at least four seasons -- the captains and friends don't need to slow down the game by spelling out their plans. Usually, that bit of eye contact or a subtle hand signal does the trick.

"You see it," linebacker Don Davis said. "You can tell when a couple of guys are really in synch. Those two have been around each other for a while. They talk some of the same languages."

From their seats in Gillette Stadium, Jen and Heidi see that when they notice a shot of their husbands on the JumboTron, talking and laughing. They know what Bruschi acknowledges -- that without someone to relate to at this stage of their career, football could become monotonous. But it hasn't.

The winning -- and the friendship -- have taken care of that.

And it's that part, the on-field accomplishments that have reached gaudy levels since Vrabel joined the team in 2001, that Bruschi cites as the most rewarding. Partly because it's hard to argue with winning three Super Bowls. Partly because it's hard to argue with winning three Super Bowls with one of your closest friends.

"You think of the time off the field, but especially it's just the success we've had as a tandem," Bruschi said. "Him and I have been somewhat of a constant back there in the linebacking crew. There have been some linebackers that have come and gone and who we'll always remember.

"But it seems like there's always No. 50 and there's always No. 54."

Inside friendship - The Boston Globe

Pats Drown In Dolphins' Tank
By John Gottlieb, NFL Contributing Editor

(Sports Network) - In what is becoming a consistent theme, the Patriots were once again beset by turnovers and penalties in Sunday's loss to Miami. However, this time the Patriots couldn't overcome their flaws, and were shut out 21-0 at Dolphin Stadium.

The loss snapped New England's seven-game road winning streak in the regular- season, which tied the longest road winning streak in franchise history. The last time the Pats lost away from home during the regular season was on November 27, 2005, in a 26-16 loss to Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. The original streak took place from October 19, 2003 to October 3, 2004.

The Pats (9-4) lost three fumbles against the Dolphins (6-7), and have now turned the ball over 11 times in the last three games.

"We've got to match the turnovers," said linebacker Mike Vrabel. "If their defense gets three turnovers then we have to make turnovers. That's not going to happen every week. We're not going to get five turnovers, but we need to get a couple. We just have to stay competitive."

They were also penalized nine times for 71 yards, including two roughing the passer flags and an illegal forward pass that negated a fourth-quarter New England touchdown, which would've made the score 13-7.

With under 10 minutes to play, running back Kevin Faulk took the direct snap before throwing to Tom Brady on the opposite side of the field. The quarterback made a nice one-handed grab, and, under pressure, threw to a wide- open Daniel Graham, who fought his way into the end zone. However, after talking about it, the officials ruled that Brady's pass was illegal.

"I had no clue, but that would have been a big play for us," said Brady of the illegal second forward pas on the play. "That would have been nice to establish a little momentum and get some points on the board but just as the day went, it was nullified. It's just frustrating because I think that we're better than that, but we've got to play better than that. We had been working on that and never had that happened in practice. It's worked pretty well in practice so we figured that we'd get the guys open."

Over the last seven games, the Patriots have been flagged an average of 7.1 times for 65.4 yards.

"We keep having penalties and keep turning the ball over like we did," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "We're talking more about making a big play. We're going to have to do something if we have multiple turnovers in a game. We've been able to match multiple turnovers in the games the last few weeks. If we have four, we create five, or three and three, but we didn't create enough this week."

Three plays after the trick play gone bade, Brady was strip-sacked by safety Yeremiah Bell, who also recovered the loose ball, and Miami used an eight- play, 61-yard drive, capped by a three-yard Sammy Morris TD to seal the victory.

The Dolphins defense stifled Brady, sacking him four times while limiting him to just 12-of-25 passing for 78 yards. The three-time Super Bowl winner is now just 7-5 against Miami, and 70-20 versus the rest of the NFL.

Miami finished with five sacks, including one of Matt Cassel, who replaced Brady with nearly five minutes to play, and held the Patriots to a season- worst 189 yards of total offense and just 12 first downs.

New England never crossed the Dolphins 38 yard-line, as the Pats had 10 possessions, seven of which ended in punts. This was largely due to the punting of Donnie Jones, who pinned the Patriots within their own 5 three times.

The Patriots have three weeks to get the ship turned around. They need to protect the ball and make smarter plays on defense. The team will get a lift up when safety Rodney Harrison returns in the next few weeks, but the discipline level needs to be picked up or this team is heading for a first- round playoff loss.

Pats Drown In Dolphins' Tank -


Tedy's Team seeking members

The Lowell Sun
Lowell Sun
Article Last Updated:12/12/2006 12:45:05 PM EST

Tedy Bruschi can more than handle himself on a football field.

But in the New England linebacker's toughest fight, an athlete's body, shoulder pads and a helmet aren't much use. For Tedy's team to win the battle against stroke, the spirit must be strong, especially the spirit of giving.

On the surface, Debbie Boda has very little in common with Bruschi. She wasn't much of an athlete growing up in Lawrence, but enjoyed watching baseball and liked going to hockey games because her brother played. Boda's only real interest in football was cheerleading for the high school team, and even that was due to the fact her boyfriend was the starting quarterback.

She started running marathons in 1998, tackling eight of them while raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies.

"But as soon as I crossed the finish line of my first one in Alaska, I knew I wanted to run Boston for my Dad," says Boda.

Carmelo Marino of Lawrence died of a massive stroke at the age of 45, leaving Boda and her five siblings without parents. (Their mother was killed by a drunk driver at age 31).

"My dad had so many warning signs and risk factors, but because we were unaware of what they were, they went unheeded. If we knew then what we know now, his death could have been avoided," Marino said.

Tedy Bruschi was similarly uninformed in February of 2005.

"You're crazy. Strokes happen to old people," the then 31-year old thought when told by doctors he'd suffered one.

Bruschi survived his ordeal and returned to the gridiron after eight months of intensive therapy. More importantly, he'd found a calling.

Thus was born Tedy's Team, an organization of volunteers hand-picked by Bruschi to run marathons while raising money and awareness for the American Stroke Association. The 2006 Boston Marathon was their first event, with Tedy's Team providing training and organizational support every step of the way.

For Debbie Boda, it was a way to honor her father. Prior to 2006, Boston wasn't one of the Stroke Association's sponsored events.

"If it weren't for you" she told Bruschi, "I wouldn't have the opportunity to run Boston for my dad."

In the process, she raised nearly $18,000, becoming the team's top fundraiser.

And this is where we come in. Boda's goal for the 2007 race is $35,500. To get the ball rolling, Boda is putting a Tedy Bruschi autographed football up for auction and using our new media ventures as a forum. Call it a "technology auction," if you will.

Bidding is now open on the Lowell Sun's internet sites. To participate, you can visit LowellSun.com, my blog at http://www.thesunblog.com/sports  or the SunTalk Live site at http://www.lowellsun.com/suntalk .
Bidding will continue through 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18. However, the final hour of the auction features a twist. We will also accept bids over the phone during our SunTalk Live broadcast that night and announce the winner at the conclusion of the program. You can join in on the fun by dialing (978) 364-TALK beginning at 6:45 p.m.

Think about it. Could there be a better Christmas present than a Tedy Bruschi autographed football and the satisfaction that comes with helping a great cause?

One more thing; you don't need to participate in the auction to contribute. No donation is too big or too small in this fight. To offer support any way you can, visit Boda's site at www.debbiemarathon.com.

Now then, you know the game plan. You know how tough the foe can be. Buckle up those chin straps, loosen those wallets, and let's help Tedy's Team tackle stroke!

Lowell Sun Online - Tedy's Team seeking members

Brace hasn't stifled Bruschi
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | December 15, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- Though it seems like a season ago -- and it nearly was -- the broken right scaphoid bone that Tedy Bruschi had surgery on in early August is still a part of his game. The wrist injury has been a constant this season, with his brace to serve as a reminder, and, as Bruschi said yesterday, it has affected him, though less as time goes on.

"It's been an entire season now so the wrist is feeling a little bit better, but I still have to keep it protected," Bruschi said. "You don't want to risk further injury. It's different playing with something on your wrist that prevents you from full motion."

But has it changed the way he has tackled? Has it altered his technique?

"As I've gotten used to it, I'm starting to feel a little bit freer with it," Bruschi said. "Any time I make a tackle, I just try to use whatever I can do to tackle that guy and bring him to the ground."

Though Bruschi leads the team in tackles with 101, according to the coaches' calculations, he hasn't had the same number of game-changing plays -- his trademark -- this season.

"I don't like to individually assess myself," Bruschi said. "I've always measured myself on helping the team win. I think I've done a job where I've contributed this year. I always feel like I should do more when we win and when we lose."

Wrist brace hasn't stifled Bruschi - The Boston Globe


Open for discussion: Tedy talks Tom, team and Tito
By John Tomase
Boston Herald Sports Writer

Friday, December 15, 2006 - Updated: 01:19 AM EST

FOXBORO - Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has kept a low profile in recent weeks, but he was in a talkative mood yesterday, discussing a wide range of topics.

Bruschi touched on everything from Tom Brady's comments that not enough players are listening to the coaches, to the process of learning to tackle with a wrist brace, to his relationship with Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Start with Brady. The quarterback said Wednesday that too many players are doing their own thing rather than listening to coach Bill Belichick and his staff. Speaking solely for the defense, Bruschi felt differently.

“I see us defensively as always accepting coaching,” Bruschi said. “We’re a technique-driven defense. If you try to do too much yourself, you get away from what you want to do. We consider ourselves technicians who have to do the right thing. That’s the way we approach it.”

Bruschi isn’t into public self-evaluation, so he declined to break down his own play, but he did admit it took practice to learn how to tackle with his left wrist in a brace. The removable cast protects the scaphoid bone he broke during training camp. He leads the team with 92 stops.

“It’s been an entire season now, and the wrist is feeling a little better, but we still have to protect it,” Bruschi said. “You don’t want to risk further injury. I’m more used to it now than I was before.”

Bruschi has developed some creative ways to tackle, using his left arm as a club to sweep the legs of opposing ball carriers.

“It’s different playing with something on your wrist that prevents you from full motion,” Bruschi said. “In the beginning I think it maybe affected me more, but as I’ve gotten used to it I’ve started feeling freer with it. You realize it’s there, but anytime I have to make a tackle, I just do whatever I have to to bring that guy to the ground.”

Bruschi spoke on a wide range of other topics as well.

On the possible return of Rodney Harrison, who was upgraded from out to doubtful: “Something we’re looking forward to as a defense is having Rodney Harrison back there in the secondary again. We feel much more comfortable with his presence back there. He’s one of the leaders of this team.”

On his relationship with fellow Arizona grad Francona: “He’s a guy I respect, being a former Wildcat. I was coming back from the stroke and he also had a health-related incident (nearly fatal blood clots following knee surgery). I sent my best wishes and vice versa. We saw each other when I threw out the first pitch at Fenway (in 2005). We’ve spent some time together.

“Once (the Red Sox) brought him in, I knew they’d turn things around. It takes a Wildcat to turn it around.”

On the motivation behind writing a book, due out next fall, that deals with his recovery from a stroke: “The one thing I want to do with this book is talk a little football and inspire people with what I went through. When you go through an experience like I did, you hear from a lot of people who survived accidents or lost someone close to them. Maybe this is my response to all of them. Since I can’t write handwritten responses to everyone who contacted me, I thought this book would be a good idea.”

On what his children know about his stroke: “My kids don’t remember much about it. I remember going in in early March to have a procedure done on my heart. My son was young at the time. The way I explained it to him was, ‘Daddy has to go to the hospital because his heart has an owwie and it has to be fixed.’ That’s all he remembers, and I’m glad.”

Finally, Bruschi offered his thoughts on the salary explosion in baseball, a sport which ranks a clear No. 2 to the NFL in popularity, and yet hands out contracts of more than $100 million: “You just look at it and go, ‘Wow.’ But I have no type of resentment or anything. I just say congratulations when I see numbers like that. That’s just the way the sport is.

“I’ll tell you this: It makes me want to teach T.J. (son Tedy Jr.) how to throw a curveball.”

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Open for discussion: Tedy talks Tom, team and Tito


Patriots top Texans
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | December 17, 2006

FOXBOROUGH -- It was a cinch, but not a clinch. So while there were plenty of smiles among Patriots players today following their 40-7 pasting of the Texans, it was hardly over-the-top elation.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi seemed to sum up the tenor of the locker room.

"We really haven't even done anything yet," he said. "We're still in a race. We're not in the playoffs, so what have we done up to this point? Nothing. That's why I'm not getting excited, because I don't see any [championship] hats or T-shirts in my locker. Until I do, then you'll see me excited a bit."

The Patriots improved to 10-4 by crushing the overmatched Texans, but Bruschi's hope to see championship garb in his locker wasn't realized because the Jets (8-6) beat the Vikings to stay alive in the AFC East. The Patriots can clinch the division with a win in either of their last two games, at Jacksonville (Dec. 24) and at Tennessee (Dec. 31). A loss by the Jets, who visit Miami and host Oakland, also would clinch the division for New England.

Minus the clinch, the Patriots settled for the next-best thing: a thoroughly dominating performance in their regular-season home finale that restored confidence following a disappointing 21-0 loss to Miami last week.

Quarterback Tom Brady, who had challenged the team in the days leading up to today's kickoff, felt the Patriots had arrived at a fork in the NFL road after that loss to the Dolphins. Based on the team's inconsistent play, Brady previously acknowledged he had no idea how the rest of the season would unfold. He feels better now.

"There are probably more smiles around here today than there have been in a while," he said. "It was the antithesis of last week."

Indeed, as Brady had been pulled from the loss in Miami with just less than five minutes remaining, because the Patriots' hopes already were dashed. Today, he was taken out with just less than nine minutes to play, but this time it was because the outcome was well in hand.

The domination of the Texans was sparked by the defense, which intercepted four passes, totaled four sacks, and consistently set the offense up in solid field position. The Patriots' average drive start was the Houston 49-yard line.

Meanwhile, two areas that had dogged the team in recent weeks -- turnovers and penalties -- were cleaned up considerably. After turning the ball over 11 times over the last three weeks, the Patriots didn't have any today. And after being flagged for 19 penalties in its last two games, the team had just two assessed penalties against the Texans.

And not to be overlooked was the role of special teams, which sparked the rout by stopping the Texans on a fake punt in the first quarter, then countered the Texans' only score with an Ellis Hobbs 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

"It was a real good, solid team victory for us," said coach Bill Belichick. "We got some turnovers and were able to capitalize and make a couple of plays offensively. Special teams, I thought they had a real good day, and that was an important part of the game."

Things began to turn early in the first quarter when the Patriots stopped a Texans fake punt at the Houston 42, with rookie Corey Mays and Larry Izzo credited with the tackle. Seven plays later, running back Kevin Faulk darted in for an 11-yard touchdown, giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead with 8:06 left in the opening frame.

On the Texans' first play on their ensuing possession, defensive lineman Richard Seymour tipped a pass, then intercepted it, setting up a Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard field goal.

On the next drive, the Patriots' defense rose up once again, with linebacker Tedy Bruschi tipping a David Carr pass, and safety James Sanders hauling it in for an interception. Two plays later, Brady found Faulk on a screen pass to the left side of the field, and Faulk darted 43 yards for a touchdown. The score had Belichick high-fiving offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sideline as the Patriots took a 17-0 lead with 3:31 still on the clock in the first quarter.

The screen was a big part of the Patriots' offense, with Belichick estimating that New England called about 10 of them to counter the Texans' pressure.

After taking a 27-0 lead at the half -- on a Gostkowski 32-yard field goal and a 6-yard scoring pass from Brady to receiver Jabar Gaffney in the second quarter -- all that was left was for the Patriots to respond to the Texans' lone score. Hobbs took care of that with his third-quarter kickoff return, which made it 34-7 early in the period, before Gostkowski hit fourth-quarter field goals of 31 and 21 yards to account for the rest of the team's scoring.

From the Texans' perspective, there was little to discuss.

"We were outcoached, outplayed, we got our butt kicked in every phase of the game," said first-year coach Gary Kubiak, his team now 4-10. "No excuses, that's on me. We definitely weren't ready to do our job."

Meanwhile, the Patriots have now recorded 10 wins in each of the last four seasons, and the 33-point spread was the team's largest winning margin in Gillette Stadium history (2002-present).

"We have to build on this," Bruschi said, "and not go backwards anymore."

Patriots top Texans - The Boston Globe

PIRES: Bruschi wants to spread his inspirational message

FOXBORO — Heart and soul.

Those words — justifiably — are commonly used to describe Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi and his importance to the Patriots' organization.

The irony, though, is that it was the core of his cardiovascular system that almost completely let him down early last year.

It's been a little over 21 months since Bruschi had surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital to repair a hole in his heart. It was this pre-existing condition that led to his stroke after returning home from his first appearance in the Pro Bowl.

It's been a miracle of sorts that Bruschi has had continued to make an impact. In his eleventh season with the team, Bruschi leads the team with 101 tackles.

Along with being among the most popular Patriots of all-time, Bruschi's adding another line to his personal resume. Bruschi is deep into the process of publishing a book, which is being co-written by former Boston Globe columnist and WEEI midday co-host Michael Holley, about his experiences as a football player and as a stroke victim.

"The book's doing real well," Bruschi said. "The one thing I told Michael, the one thing I want to do with this book is talk a little football and inspire — inspire people about what I went through coming back because we've all have had something that we've had that we've had to come back from in our lives. I think that a lot of people can relate to it and I just hope people enjoy it.."

According to Bruschi, the book will likely be out in time for the start of the 2007 football season.

Even though he has three Super Bowl championship rings and experiences that most who come through the NFL can only hope for, Bruschi said he probably wouldn't have written the book if it hadn't it been for the stroke and his recovery.

"I don't think I had much to say before that," he said. "When you go through an experience like that and you get questions about how you did it, how your story touched theirs — even though they didn't have a stroke, but maybe they had a mother passed away or they had an injury in a car accident where they wanted to come back from and they talk to me about my story. Maybe this is my response to all of them. I can't write letters to everyone about what I went through, so I figured a book would be a good idea."

When Bruschi made his return to the field midway through last season, there were plenty who questioned his decision to resume playing. After all, Bruschi's reputation away from the field was that of a loyal husband and devout father of three young boys.

Bruschi said he never questioned his return and rarely thinks of the consequences of strapping a helmet and pads.

"I want to say that it's always with me, but I really don't think about it every day as much," Bruschi said. "Time heals a lot. As time goes by and as the months pass and as the years since the experience, it's something that you remember and can always call upon how it made you stronger and how it made my marriage stronger. It affected how I love to play the game of football.

"My kids don't remember a lot about it really. I remember going in early March (2005) to get my heart procedure taken care of. My son (Tedy, Jr.) was young at the time. The way I explained it to him was, 'Daddy has to go to the hospital' and he'd say, 'Why.' I sad 'Daddy's heart has an owwie and it has to be fixed.' That's about all he remembers of it, and I'm glad, you know."

Even though he has what some would regard as a built-in excuse, there's no tougher critic than himself.

"I've always said that I measure myself on am I helping the team win," Bruschi said. "I've done the job to where I've contributed this year and I always feel like I should do more when we win and when we lose."
Heart and soul — in Bruschi's case, there's no other way to describe him.

Dan Pires covers the Patriots for The Standard-Times.

SouthCoastToday.com - Sports - PIRES: Bruschi wants to spread his inspirational message - December 17, 2006

So, they beat up Houston
By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist

Monday, December 18, 2006 - Updated: 06:12 AM EST

FOXBORO - What we learned, yet again, is the Patriots can beat a bad team into submission. What we do not know, still, is whether they can stand up to someone who hits back.

All of that makes yesterday’s 40-7 victory over the Houston Texans [team stats] utterly worthless, largely because the Texans are a truly wretched team that turned in an even more wretched performance. Maybe that is why Pats veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi was reluctant to call this game anything more than “a start,” even though the Pats have a mere two games left in this regular season.

Why the restraint?

“I say that because we really haven’t done anything yet,” Bruschi said after the Pats extended their record to 10-4. “We haven’t even won the division yet, have we? I think the (New York) Jets won, so we’re still in a race. We’re not in the playoffs. So what have we done up to this point? Nothing.

“So that’s why I’m not getting excited about this, because I don’t see any (championship) hats or t-shirts in my locker. (When) I do, then you’ll see me excited a little bit.”

Thank heavens for veteran players. Without them, there would be no one to offer perspective.

Before we go on too much more about the Pats, let’s make something crystal clear about the Texans: They would spit up a free lunch. Offensively, Houston entered ranked 29th in the NFL in scoring, 23rd in passing and 24th in rushing. Defensively, the respective numbers were 26th, 26th and 20th. Trying to find something the Texans do well is a pigskin riddle of the sphinx.

“Houston’s very good on special teams, so that was a big challenge for us,” said Pats coach Bill Belichick.

Well, not exactly.

Against the Pats, the Texans gave up one kickoff return for a touchdown and their punt coverage team entered the game ranked 24th in the league in net average. This team even botched the first pick in last April’s draft during a season in which Reggie Bush, Vince Young and Maurice Jones-Drew have been staking a claim in the league.

As for the Pats, they look as good on paper as almost any team in the NFL. Currently, only San Diego, Baltimore and Chicago have more victories. To date, the Pats have scored 321 points and allowed only 193, a differential of plus-128 that placed then behind only the Bears (plus-186) and Chargers (plus-168) entering play last night.

Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, the Patriots even held onto the ball.

So why the tempered enthusiasm from Bruschi, who seemed to pick up yesterday precisely where Tom Brady [stats] left off on Wednesday? Because Bruschi has played on three Super Bowl winners and he knows what it takes. Because the standards forever changed in New England when the Pats went 17-2 in consecutive seasons. Because the Pats have bludgeoned doormats Green Bay and Houston by a combined 75-7, and it’s 106-14 if you throw in Minnesota. And because those numbers are terribly, terribly deceiving.

Does that mean the Patriots are a bad team? No, no, no. A million times no. But it means they have yet to prove that they are an elite one, because the elite teams beat the best competition. They do not lose to an Indianapolis club that has made the term run defense an oxymoron. They do not play an entire game at Miami without getting inside the opposing 37-yard line. They do not sleepwalk, at home, against the NFL sludge known as the Detroit Lions.

And they do not get too excited about a win over a Houston Texans team that might get annihilated in a Punt, Pass and Kick competition.

“It was a start,” Bruschi repeated.

But we still don’t know if the Patriots can finish.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: So, they beat up Houston

Crown princes
Patriots win fourth straight AFC East title, spot in playoffs
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | December 25, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few years ago, linebacker Tedy Bruschi came up with a saying for games like the one the Patriots played yesterday. He called them hat-and-T-shirt contests.

The idea was simple. With a win, players would find championship hats and T-shirts waiting for them in their lockers.

"You know you've accomplished something when you have a hat and T-shirt," Bruschi said as he donned a black AFC East Championship hat following the Patriots' 24-21 victory over the Jaguars yesterday at Alltel Stadium.

Yesterday's hard-fought win -- which featured a dramatically altered offensive approach with a heavy emphasis on passing -- clinched the Patriots' franchise-record fourth straight AFC East title and fifth in the past six years.

Like Bruschi, coach Bill Belichick wore a championship hat after the game as he talked about what the title means to the team, now 11-4.

"I'm happy to win the AFC East and am proud of what our players did. They've overcome a lot this year to have the record we have," said Belichick, perhaps thinking about the nearly 200-man games lost to injury, one of the highest figures in the NFL. "You have to give all the credit in the world to the players, they played their hearts out. They certainly deserve it."

Belichick noted the irony of how the last time the Patriots played at Alltel Stadium, it was in Super Bowl XXXIX, and the team won by the same score. Like that Super Bowl victory over the Eagles, the Patriots also had safety Rodney Harrison with the ball in his hands at the end of yesterday's game, sealing the result. In the Super Bowl, Harrison had an interception to wrap up the victory. Yesterday, it was a fumble recovery as the Jaguars attempted a final march near midfield.

And like that Super Bowl, the Patriots threw a significant changeup to their opposition. In the Super Bowl, the team played a 4-3 defense that surprised the Eagles. Yesterday, it was the offense that shifted gears, going with a plan that hadn't been executed at any point this season -- flooding the field with receivers, sometimes lining those receivers up at running back, using bunch formations, consistently mixing personnel groups, and letting it rip through the air.

"Obviously, we change from week to week, but this week it seemed like we changed a little bit more," said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. "One of the things we wanted to do was keep them off balance, and just never let them feel comfortable about what we were doing. We wanted to mix up the personnel groupings and send people in and out of the game and try to get a lot of people touching the ball."

The results were just like McDaniels and Co. drew them up. Eleven players caught at least one pass, and quarterback Tom Brady -- who was knocked out of the game for one snap because of a hard hit on a running play in the fourth quarter -- finished 28 of 39 for 249 yards and one touchdown.

"That was part of the plan, to try to find the open guys and spread them out a little bit and run it when there was a light box, which we did," said Brady, who also made things happen with his feet (career-high 31 rushing yards on 10 carries) when things broke down in the air.

The offensive performance was that much more impressive considering the Jaguars entered the game allowing an average of 9.1 points per contest at home this season. The Jaguars, now 8-7, also needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Early on, it looked as if the game would be a defensive struggle, the teams playing a scoreless first quarter before rookie Stephen Gostkowski booted a 48-yard field goal with 13:19 left in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 3-0 lead.

Yet on the Jaguars' first play on their ensuing drive, rookie running back Maurice Jones-Drew raced 74 yards for a touchdown to give Jacksonville a 7-3 advantage. It was an unconventional play in which Jones-Drew barreled up the middle, fell to the ground after making contact with his own tight end (Kyle Brady), but was never touched by a defender. Jones-Drew kept running, ripping through an attempted tackle by outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain -- who apparently thought Jones-Drew had been touched down -- and then tackle attempts by safeties Artrell Hawkins and Rodney Harrison (who returned after missing the past six games because of a fractured scapula).

The Patriots answered back later in the quarter, putting together one of their most impressive drives of the season -- a 14-play, 82-yard surge that was reflective of the overall plan to stay out of third-and-long. The Patriots had only two third-down plays on the entire march, attacking through the air before Corey Dillon rumbled in from 1 yard out to give the team a 10-7 lead it took into halftime.

The momentum carried into the third quarter, with the Patriots immediately storming down the field, this time 78 yards on seven plays. Rookie tight end David Thomas had the two big plays -- a 36-yard catch-and-run along the left sideline and a remarkable, diving, 22-yard yard touchdown grab over the middle on a beautiful pass by Brady with 11:24 left in the third.

The Jaguars closed to 17-14 late in the third when Jones-Drew (131 yards, 19 carries) scored from the 1. But the Patriots opened it back up to 24-14 when Laurence Maroney -- who was playing for the first time since suffering torn rib cartilage Dec. 3 -- raced for a 27-yard rushing score with 4:36 left in the game.

The Jaguars came right back, slicing it to 24-21 with 3:03 left on a 33-yard touchdown connection from David Garrard (17 of 23, 195 yards, 1 TD) to Matt Jones. And when the Patriots couldn't run out the clock, Jacksonville got the ball back at its 45-yard line with 1:55 left. On the first play, Banta-Cain pinched Garrard out of the pocket, defensive lineman Jarvis Green forced a fumble, and Harrison recovered.

The celebration was on. The hats and T-shirts were delivered, the Patriots assured of hosting a playoff game on wild-card weekend (Jan. 6 or 7).

"We've accomplished something now," Bruschi said. "That's why I have a hat on my head. It's nice to be a division champion."

Crown princes - The Boston Globe


Green rises to the occasion
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | December 26, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When the Patriots' defense needed a big play to stop the Jaguars' final drive Sunday, linebacker Tedy Bruschi wasn't surprised who delivered it. He has seen defensive end Jarvis Green come through in the clutch before.

"It seems like he makes big plays for us in the biggest games," said Bruschi, pointing to Green's strip sack of quarterback David Garrard that sealed the victory.

Bruschi noted Green's past performances in the playoffs, such as the 2003 AFC Championship game, when he had 2 1/2 sacks of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning while setting a career high with six tackles.

The Jaguars were attempting to drive for either a tying field goal or go-ahead score when the 27-year-old Green stepped forth. The Jaguars had the ball on their own 45 -yard line with 1:46 remaining, and on the first play, Garrard was flushed out of the pocket by outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. Green finished him off, knocking the ball loose, and safety Rodney Harrison recovered.

"They had the advantage; they were at midfield and they needed the field goal to tie the game," Bruschi said. "I'm sure they felt good about themselves, but the first play, one of our playmakers stepped up. He's another guy we look at and know he can do things like that."

Green, now in his fifth season, was used mostly in nickel situations Sunday, except for one second-half series in which he subbed for Richard Seymour. Although he didn't start, Green was still on the field for more than half of the Jaguars' offensive snaps.

Green's sack gave him 6 1/2 on the season, tied for second on the team with end Ty Warren, one behind outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin.

Green rises to the occasion - The Boston Globe



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