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Weis to miss start of camp

The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will be shorthanded when they head to Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., for the start of training camp next week.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who underwent weight reduction surgery in June, developed complications from which he is still recovering, and which will force him to miss the early portion of camp, which begins when the rookies report Monday, July 22.

The Patriots have confirmed this information via the following statement:

"In mid-June, Charlie Weis underwent weight reduction surgery. Complications developed which resulted in weakness in his legs. Currently, Weis is in good health, but is undergoing rehabilitation to regain his strength. As a result, Weis will not be with the team for the start of training camp, but is expected to return in the coming weeks. In his absence, Weis's various coaching duties will be accounted for by several members of the Patriots staff."

In addition to his offensive coordinator chores, Weis, 46, plays a big role in coaching the quarterbacks along with Head Coach Bill Belichick. His absence can't help the Patriots as they prepare to defend their title; however, it is obvious that Weis's health is a much more pressing issue for the organization.

It is speculatory at this point, but Patriots veteran coach and current assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia could be assigned additional offensive chores beyond his offensive line responsibilities. Also, Belichick, who already works with the quarterbacks, will likely spend additional time with the offense.

Weis is in his 13th NFL coaching season and seventh with the Patriots over two separate stints. He was an assistant under Bill Parcells in New England from 1993-1996 and returned when Belichick was hired as head coach in February of 2000.

Under Weis's tutelage, the Patriots offense was able to overcome the loss of starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe last season and his innovative approach and close work with Tom Brady helped the team successfully move forward and capture its first Super Bowl title.

Brady's continued development is considered critical to the Patriots chances for 2002 and Weis's absence has to be a concern for the team as camp kicks off. However, Weis was with the team throughout its entire offseason together and his loss, if temporary as indicated, should not limit the Patriots offensive development.

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