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LB Bruschi returns to practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 19, 2005) -- New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi returned to the Patriots Oct. 19, eight months after he had a minor stroke that threatened his NFL career.

Bruschi was hospitalized in February, three days after the first Pro Bowl appearance of his nine-year NFL career and 10 days after New England won its third Super Bowl in four years.

Bruschi experienced numbness in his left arm and left leg and had surgery in March to repair a small hole in his heart. He'd said as recently as last month that he would not play this season, but his doctors cleared him to return to the team over the weekend, and the Patriots, who have struggled defensively during a 3-3 start to the season, welcome him back.

"It will be great to see him out there," Coach Bill Belichick said before practice.

Belichick will decide when to use him in a game, but Bruschi has said he has no doubt it will be this season. The Patriots have a bye this weekend and their next game is at home against Buffalo on Oct. 30.

"I'm not going to do a minute to minute evaluation," Belichick said.

Bruschi, the 32-year-old defensive captain and emotional leader of the defense, has been working out in the Patriots' weight room, attending team meetings and standing on the sideline at home games. He also saw several doctors and, he said, all assured him that he could play this season.

Without Bruschi, the Patriots have allowed the fifth most points per game in the AFC. Last season they were 14-2 and gave up the third fewest point in the NFL. Injuries to key defensive players Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison and others have been costly.

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