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Patriots.com News Blitz - 10/30/2008

Vince Wilforkdodged a suspension (but not a hefty fine) following his meeting with NFL commissioner and is now working toward rebuilding his reputation in the aftermath of his hit against Broncos' quarterback Jay Cutler.

"Right now, I got a pretty bad one out there," Wilfork told the Boston Globe.

The meeting with Goodell helped Wilfork explain his side of the story while building a rapport with the league commissioner.

Quarterback Matt Casselhas dealt with his share of critics this year because he's not Tom Brady, yet the numbers show both quarterbacks put up similar numbers through their first seven games.

Sunday's game against the Colts lacks the same hype from last year, but the match-up is still important for both teams in terms of the playoff race down the stretch.

"It's a big game for us and a big game for them," fullback Heath Evanstold the Globe.

The two teams were a combined 15-0 prior to last year's game. Now they're 8-7.

One of the keys for New England is stopping tight end Dallas Clark, who has had success against the Patriots in the past. The man for that job, Rodney Harrison, is out for the season, putting the pressure on others to fill the void.

The Patriots also have to deal with Peyton Manning despite a tattered secondary currently dealing with a number of injuries. The defensive backs are hopeful their experience practicing against Brady will prepare them for what they face Sunday from Manning.

This game will be particularly challenging for rookie cornerback Terrence Wheatley, who may have to handle two future Hall of Famers in Manning and Colts' receiver Marvin Harrison.

"Never thought about that, but I'm definitely thinking about it now," Wheatley told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Quick hits

The news out of Indianapolis focuses on the Colts' running game, which should get a boost with Joseph Addai presumably back in the lineup for Sunday's game. More importantly, Dominic Rhodes will slide back into his customary role as a backup.

The Colts are also anticipating the return of safety Bob Sanders, which should help shore up their porous run defense. Head coach Tony Dungy also wants to make sure Sanders' replacement, Melvin Bullitt, is utilized properly.

This is an even bigger game for the Colts considering they've rarely faced this much adversity in late-October. They have won at least 12 games in each of the last five years, so being 3-4 now is unfamiliar territory.

"This is a good mental test right now," quarterback Peyton Manning told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

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