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Patriots.com News Blitz - 09/23/05

Bill Griffith of the Boston Globe reports that former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson has joined the Channel 4 sports staff as an analyst for "Patriots Game Day," "5th Quarter," and "Sports Final." "Ted was a go-to guy in the Patriots' locker room," said sports anchor Bob Lobel. "He's intelligent and well-spoken. This was a no-brainer."

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that head coach Bill Belichick offered some insight into how dire the situation was with so many defensive backs being injured. The Patriots have 10 defensive backs on their roster, half sit on the injury list released yesterday by the team, deemed as "questionable" for Sunday in Pittsburgh. "We're back to where we were last year, unfortunately. It's disappointing to be there, from a numbers standpoint. It's probably about where it's at, give or take," said Belichick.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots have avoided the pitfall of losing back-to-back games better than any team in the NFL. Not only have they won three Super Bowls in four seasons, including the last two, they have an NFL-best streak of 35 weeks of games without suffering back-to-back losses. "We don't even worry about what happened the week before, win or lose," tight end Daniel Graham said. "We take the next game ahead of us and that's where we put all our focus on. What happened last week has no effect on this week."

Jeff Goldberg of the Hartford Courant writes that Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said Thursday he never worries about playing in a hostile stadium. "It's just fans yelling," Harrison said. "I don't care how loud it is. It's just people sitting on their butts or standing up, yelling and screaming. That's all it is. They can't do anything. They can't throw, they can't catch. All they can do is yell, scream, swear at you, maybe give you the finger, those type things. But they can't do anything."

Skip Wood of USA Today writes that the Patriots vs. Steelers matchup looks to be the highlight of week 3. Despite a loss last weekend at Carolina that dropped them to 1-1, the Patriots will take to the same Heinz Field on which they trounced the Steelers 41-27 last season to advance to the Super Bowl XXXIX. "You have to move on. We realize that we lost, and we were disappointed by it and we were frustrated after the game, (but) I don't think we can really say, 'We've really got to play well this week because we lost last week.' No. You've got to play well every week," said Patriots QB Tom Brady.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that the Patriots did a great job at attacking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship game forcing the then rookie back to earth as he threw three interceptions and was hit hard by the Patriots defense. Now Roethlisberger(2-0 with the Steelers) has a chance for a little payback on the Patriots. They will welcome the challenge as the Pats defense will look to get their licks in on the 6-foot-5, 241-pounder who was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. "When we get a chance to hit him, we've got to hit him," Harrison said yesterday. "We can't let him scramble around the field, like he's been known to do, and throw 50- and 60-yard bombs. He's a big guy and he runs like a tight end. He's athletic and strong and he has a lot of weapons. With his team being able to run the ball 30 or 40 times a game and having (receivers Hines) Ward and (Antwaan) Randle-El, he's got it all. With a great defense, he's not really asked to do a lot. He's asked to maintain and not turn the ball over."

Jeff Goldberg of the Hartford Courant takes a look at Steelers running back Willie Parker, who currently is the AFC's leading rusher. The Patriots will try on Sunday to be the first team that is able to contain him.

In what has been an offensive line shuffle in the past two games, Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that rookie Nick Kaczur has been showing his versatility subbing at times for left tackle Matt Light and right tackle Tom Ashworth. "Nick has some versatility there," explained Patriots head coach Bill Belichick yesterday. "He played left tackle in college, he's played quite a bit of right tackle here for us. I think now he is getting comfortable at both spots."

Several Patriots players will be making a homecoming of sorts when the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger reports that linebackers Chad Brown (1993-96) and Mike Vrabel (1997-2000), punter Josh Miller (1996-2003) and cornerback Chad Scott (1997-2004) have all logged significant time with the Steelers.

Brett Arends of the *Boston Herald * reports that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has joined the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans for the first time. Kraft, 64, yesterday joined the roster at number 320 with an estimated personal worth of $1.1 billion.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest mailbag where he answers your questions.

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