By: Christopher Price
October 27, 2005

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Will Tedy play?

That's the question most Patriots fans have as New England's first division game of the year approaches Sunday night against the Bills. The veteran linebacker went through another practice Thursday as the team continued preparation for their home date against Buffalo. It was his third practice of the week, as he continues his attempt to return from a stroke he suffered just over eight months ago.

On Thursday morning during his press conference, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick wasn't tipping his hand regarding Bruschi's status, saying only he had not suffered any setbacks in his first full week of contact.

"He's looked OK. He's looked OK. He's done what we've asked him to do,"¯ Belichick said prior to Thursday's practice. "I don't think that he's had any problem with it."¯

As for a final decision, league rules mandate that New England must settle on its 53-man roster for Sunday's game by 4 p.m. Saturday. Expect radio silence until then -- Belichick is not addressing the media Friday because he is scheduled to be in New York for funeral services regarding late Giants' owner Wellington Mara.

"When will we make the decision?"¯ Belichick asked Thursday morning. "When we're sure that the decision that we're making is "¦ that we're not going to have to double back on it, that we're sure it's going to be the right decision for that point in time."¯

However, it would appear that Thursday afternoon's decision to place cornerback Tyrone Poole on injured reserve '-- losing him for the year and giving the Patriots an open roster spot '-- could open the door for Bruschi to be activated to the 53-man roster. Belichick was not available after the roster move was announced, but he did say earlier in the day that the team had given consideration to placing some players on injured reserve because of the recent rash of injuries, especially in the secondary, where, besides Poole, cornerback Chad Scott and safeties Rodney Harrison and Guss Scott are also on injured reserve.

"In the end, you have to do what's best for the team,"¯ he said of any potential moves to IR. "Have we talked about some of those things? Is that part of a discussion? Yes, I think it has to be."¯

The move marks the end of a frustrating season for Poole. He hasn't played since injuring his ankle in the season opener against Oakland. He was seen in the New England locker room several times over the course of the season when media were present. At that time, he appeared to be walking without a limp, and was present for much of the practices. But the veteran corner was back on crutches last week, and Wednesday was listed as doubtful (75 percent chance of not playing) on the injury report, a downgrade from the questionable (50 percent chance of playing) two weeks before.

Last season he started four of the first five games at right cornerback but played in only one after that before going on injured reserve Dec. 17. That followed a strong first season with the Patriots when he started all 19 games, including the playoffs, and tied for the team lead with six interceptions. Poole, 33, played with Carolina, Indianapolis and Denver before signing as an unrestricted free agent March 11, 2003.

Whether happens regarding Bruschi this week, Belichick wants to make sure that if he is activated for Sunday night, the other 52 players on the roster keep their focus and not worry about No. 54. After all, each one of the other players will have enough to worry about with Buffalo in town for what is shaping up to be a key divisional matchup between the two top teams in the AFC East.

"I think the way the team should approach is I think everybody should just concentrate on themselves and do the best job that they can do '-- whichever players play or don't play, I don't think that's really in their control,"¯ Belichick said. "If you're a player, what you need to do is prepare for the game and be able to do the best job you can do when you're called on to do it '" and whether somebody else does or doesn't play or is or isn't in there isn't anything that you have control over.

"All you can do is get yourself to that point and then be prepared to handle the situation the best you possibly can when whatever it is comes up."¯

Christopher Price covers the Patriots for Boston Metro and BostonSportsReview.com. He can be reached at capeleaguer@hotmail.com.


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