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Armstrong set for surgery

Left tackle Bruce Armstrong underwent surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee today at Massachusetts General Hospital. Armstrong, who was named as an alternate for the Pro Bowl team but turned down his seventh trip to Hawaii after Jacksonville's Tony Boselli was injured and unable to play, remained in the lineup for the last several games despite the injury. He chose to forgo his Pro Bowl invitation so he could begin his rehab as quickly as possible.

Armstrong's decision to have surgery immediately may have been related to the Patriots' participation in the 2000 Hall of Fame game in late July in Canton, Ohio. With the Patriots slated to play an extra preseason contest, it's likely the team would begin training camp earlier than in the past, perhaps as soon as July 17.

The 34-year-old Armstrong had a solid season protecting quarterback Drew Bledsoe's blind side after suffering through one of the worst seasons of his 13-year career in 1998. Armstrong played that year with a stress fracture in his foot, an injury he sustained in the preseason and opted to play with throughout the season.

In other team news, owner Robert Kraft was in New York today to oversee the eight-man Finance Committee and their ruling on the Jets' ownership situation. Robert "Woody" Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire, was approved by the committee as the new Jets owner. He won't assume operational control, however, until the league owners can vote their approval, which could happen as early as Jan. 18. Johnson will be able to consult with Jets Chief of Football Operations, Bill Parcells, about the hiring of a new coach.

With Kraft in New York, the Patriots did not have any scheduled interviews with potential coaching candidates. Bill Belichick and his agent, Neil Cornrich, will make their case to Commissioner Paul Tagliabue Thursday and the Patriots don't expect to conduct any additional interviews until then.

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