By: Ian Logue/
October 03, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- It appears that New England wide receiver Troy Brown may be feeling a bit better.

According to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick the veteran wide receiver took part in practice on Wednesday, although the coach as expected wouldn't get into the details.  Despite his absence last weekend against San Diego Brown still leads the team in receptions with 31, and was an important part of New England's offense prior to his knee injury in week three against the Chiefs.

The fact that he's been able to practice is good news for the Patriots as Brown had been the guy who set the tone for their offense.  While his reputation has always been as the guy to throw to on 3rd down, the veteran receiver surprisingly enough has 17-catches for 144-yards on 1st down and just 9-grabs for 118-yards on third down for his team.
1st Down Brown?

Needless to say when #80 is on the field, he was one of the people who helped get the offense going during the first three games when they averaged 38-points per contest.

"Troy did a little bit [in practice yesterday]," said Belichick on Thursday.  "[We'll make a decision on him] whenever we know [he's ready]. If we know on Friday, we'll know."

"If we don't know on Friday, then we'll wait until Saturday. If we know on Saturday, we'll know. If we don't know on Saturday, then we'll wait until Sunday. I don't know when we're going to know."

Belichick's usual answer to any injury: he's not going to tell you.

But one thing he doesn't need to talk about is how important Brown is in the line-up.  No matter how much a team prepares for him, he always finds a way to get open, and even when they think they've got him figured out he makes a key play.

One great example was in the opening game against Pittsburgh where he finished with just 22-yards on 6-catches. Three times in that game he was held to 1-yard or less on a reception, but he made a key 19-yard grab on 3rd down in that game which eventually set up Deion Branch's 22-yard touchdown reception.  The team went on to beat the Steelers 30-14.

He then followed it up with a 9-catch 94-yard first half performance to help get his team started en-route to a 44-7 win over the New York Jets in week 2, and then followed it up with a 16-catch 176-yard performance the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs.  His final catch was an 11-yard grab on the play in which he was injured, and two plays later runningback Antowain Smith took off 42-yards for a touchdown to put the Patriots up 38-24 late in the fourth quarter.

No matter what down the Patriots had been facing, having a guy like Troy Brown in the line-up certainly made a difference.  Belichick may have said earlier in the week that Brown had nothing to do with the mistakes his team made last week in San Diego, but like it or not his absence probably had something to do with the plays they didn't make.

Those plays are ones his team will need to make this weekend.  Hopefully he's back on the field on Sunday to help them do just that.