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Patriots.com News Blitz - 2/22/2007

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe is reporting that Patriots rookie wide receiver Chad Jackson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the team's AFC Championship game loss to the Colts Jan. 21, according to a league source. Reiss also notes that the Patriots have released safety Tebucky Jones.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald discusses the Patriots likelyhood to draft a linebacker in this year's draft. Some names to watch are Mississippi's Patrick Willis, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder who is considered a high character guy, and Michigan's David Harris, a 6-2, 250-pounder who has played inside in the 3-4. The evaluation of draft prospects begins today at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Patriots Insider asks the question "Will They Return?" The Patriots face this scenario in a number of aging players who have been key contributors in recent years. For a variety of specific reasons, wide receiver Troy Brown, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, linebacker Junior Seau, safety Rodney Harrison, running back Corey Dillon and punter Josh Miller can no longer simply be penciled into the starting lineup for fall 2007 action. Find out what their likely status is in this piece.

NFL.com's Adam Schefter writes that Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who hinted at retirement after New England lost to Indianapolis in the AFC championship game, has decided to return for the 2007 season, an NFL source said.

Calvin Hennick of The Boston Globe explains that a Route 115 repaving project is getting an extra push by plans to build up the area around Gillette Stadium. The highway improvements, originally scheduled to begin in 2010, need to happen earlier, according to James Lehan , chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Major construction on the complex, which will include shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, is scheduled to begin this spring.

The Eagle-Tribune has a piece written by combine competitor Zak DeOssie. The Brown University linebacker discusses his preparations for the NFL Scouting Combine, which began today.

Bill Reynolds of The Providence Journal explains that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been a central figure for the tabloids this week, "right there with Britney cutting off her hair and the continuing fallout from the death of Anna Nicole Smith." Reynolds doesn't believe the star QB's image has been tarnished much, however.

The Patriot Ledger* *also offers an opinion piece on the tabloid coverage of the Patriots quarterback this week, explaining that "Sometimes, even with the beautiful people who fill the scandal sheets, the most dignified and charitable response is to wish the parties concerned well and not take too much enjoyment from somebody else's private woes."

The Sun Chronicle's Lauren Carter talks to a few Patriots fans about Brady's image. It makes sense that most fans are unfazed by the news, says Maura Rosenthal, an assistant professor of movement arts, health promotion and leisure studies at Bridgewater State College who specializes in sports and society. "In a weird way, it almost reinforces his masculinity," Rosenthal said.

In his blog, Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe breaks down various Patriots areas of need heading into free agency and the draft. He'll also be updating his blog with the latest news from the NFL Scouting Combine.

USA Today's "Inside Slant" writes that one of the Patriots' biggest offseason dilemmas took a major step last Friday when the team decided to use the franchise tag on potential unrestricted free agent cornerback Asante Samuel. Scheduled to be one of the biggest names on the free agent market, Samuel will receive a one-year, $7.79 million tender. If another team wants to sign Samuel now, it would have to send a pair of first-round picks New England's way.

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