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Patriots.com News Blitz 10/28/04

Joe Burris of The Boston Globe features Josh Miller, who will experience a homecoming of sorts this weekend, as he spent eight seasons as the Pittsburgh punter before being released this past offseason. "The former Pittsburgh Steelers punter said he not only looks forward to returning to the Steel City as a Patriot Sunday, he has no trepidation about playing again in Heinz Field, a venue reputed to be a punter's nightmare because of swirling winds," writes Burris.

In his notebook, Burris updates the progress of injured wide receivers Troy Brown and Deion Branch. "Prior to yesterday's practice, coach Bill Belichick said Brown and receiver Deion Branch (knee) continue to make progress toward returning," Burris writes. Burris also updates the other injuries and notes everyone, including coach Bill Belichick are talking about the Red Sox.

Michael Felger of The Boston Herald spotlights linebacker Matt Chatham, whose interest in the political sphere has led him to new endeavors off the football field. "Chatham's interest in political commentary has even led him to pen his own column, and he's now submitting it to his hometown newspapers in Iowa for publication (you can read it atfindri.com)," writes Felger.

In his notebook, Felger points out the Patriots recent success starting out games. "It used to be that the Pats never scored first. Now they've done it 14 games in a row," Felger writes. Felger also reports on the injury to Dan Klecko and the Josh Miller reunion.

Tom Curran of The Providence Journal looks ahead to this weekend's game and identifies a potential match-up problem in Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. "Like the Patriots' receivers, Ward makes it his business to get in the grill of defensive backs downfield," writes Curran. "With a powerful, 6-foot, 215-pound build, he's got the size to do it well, and with his speed, athleticism and scholarly approach to the game, he's also got the knack."

In his notebook, Curran covers Miller and the injuries.

Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant also looks at Miller, who feels lucky he has been able to make a career out of kicking footballs. " Although his numbers would suggest otherwise - he was a Pro Bowl alternate in 1999 and has a 42.4 career average - Miller, 34, says he can't believe his good fortune that he's still making a living at this," writes Greenberg.

Also on the Miller beat is Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News, who chronicles the complicated progression of transactions that brought Miller to New England.

In his notebook, Reiss reports talks are accelerating in the hope of signing kicker Adam Vinatieri to a contract extension. "The spike in negotiations makes sense, as Nov. 8 is the deadline that teams can strike new deals and count money on this year's salary cap. By signing Vinatieri before that date, the team could apply any salary increase to this year's cap, while saving cap space in future years," Reiss writes. Reiss also looks at who else might re-up soon, who is injured for this week, and how Richard Seymour is playing.

The Standard Times runs an article by Dennis Dillon of The Sporting News about Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 4-0 since taking the helm from injured starter Tommy Maddox. "He has become such a hit in Pittsburgh, a restaurant now features a 1/3-pound hamburger called the "Roethlis-burger," writes Dillon.

Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call highlights what will surely be an important aspect of Sunday's game: play in the red zone. "The best way to shut down Pittsburgh's league-leading red-zone offense would be to keep it out of the red zone, but that's probably not going to happen," writes Parente. "The New England Patriots will counter with the next-best thing -- the NFL's top-ranked red-zone defense."

Parente also covers Miller. "Miller insists its "just another game," but that's hard to believe after the Steelers surprisingly dumped him in March," writes Parente. "Wouldn't he love to return to his old stomping grounds and help lead the Patriots to a win?"

Golf Magazine has a spread on Brady in this month's magazine. Peter Richmond spends a day on the links with the popular quarterback, tying in his golf game with his football career. "Brady marches up the fairway, expecting things to improve. No: willing things to improve. For Tom Brady, two-time Super Bowl MVP, a bad start is just another chance for a comeback. He soon heads for the fourth tee, leading with his dimpled chin," writes Richmond.

Dan Pompei of The Sporting News has a feature on the Patriots, examining the team in each phase of the game. "If the Patriots' 21-game winning streak teaches us anything, it's that this team is as flexible as a campaign promise. During the streak, they have won games scoring 38 points -- and scoring 9," writes Pompei.

Also in The Sporting News, Paul Attner looks at Brady, describing his intangible clutch qualities as "having It." "His cup of It runneth over. Charlie Weis, the Patriots' offensive coordinator, gives It a name: moxie," writes Attner.

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