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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/25/2007

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports that the NFL voted to strengthen its drug policy yesterday. Players will be tested more often and face harsher financial penalties. The league and its players union also announced the addition of erythropoietin (EPO) to its list of banned substances. EPO increases the number of red blood cells, giving users more stamina.

John Tomase of the *Boston Herald *takes stock of the Patriots likely to return next year, drawing the conclusion that "a strong nucleus will be back." Tomase takes a position-by-position look at who may stay and who may go.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports that safety Rodney Harrison is bent on a return. She speaks with Harrison's agent about his potential return. "He's definitely coming back next year. He's never thought at all about retiring," Feldman said yesterday.

Boston Herald writer Karen Guregian also reports on Pats multi-man (receiver, defensive back, returner) Troy Brown, who's a free agent-to-be. He's been on the Pats roster longer than any other player on the team, but he hasn't settled on retirement either.

Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald interviews Roxbury coach Roosevelt Robinson about the fact that, although an African-American coach has never made it to the Super Bowl, both of the coaches in Super Bowl XLI are African-American. Buckley discusses the milestone. "This has led to some good discussions," coach Robinson said. "We've talked about how there was a time when a lot of people felt blacks couldn't be head coaches."

Alan Greenberg of the* Hartford Courant* reports that the Patriots weakest link is the linebacking corps. Greenberg explains that Belichick likes to pick up veteran linebackers, rather than craft them in his workshop. "There is a strong class of veteran linebackers entering free agency, including the Bears Lance Briggs, the Ravens Adaulius Thomas, the Colts Cato June and the Bills London Baker-Fletcher. The frugal Patriots may actually take a run at one of them," writes Greenberg, who also looks at other areas with need.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger offers a piece on coach Bill Belichick, including his recent interactions with the media, his persona as "the bad guy," and words from his No. 1 fan - Mama Belichick.

Glen Farley of The Enterprise talks to Bridgewater resident and Dallas Cowboy Marc Colombo about Bill Parcells' retirement. "I'm just glad to have had the opportunity to play for him," Colombo said during a telephone interview from Dallas Tuesday afternoon.

The Sun Chronicle's Danny Crandall poses the question: Are the Patriots like the Yankees? Check it out to find out why.

Bill Burt of The Eagle-Tribune lists five things that could have tipped the AFC Championship game the other way, before addressing the fact that the Patriots ground attack was smothered.

Also, check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated yesterday.

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