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Fast-healing Bruschi may return to Pats this season

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England linebacker and ex-Arizona Wildcat Tedy Bruschi is working toward a return to the Patriots – this season, not next.

He is having a faster-than-expected recovery from the stroke that sent him to the emergency room just days after playing in his first Pro Bowl.

Several obstacles remain. Bruschi has received favorable reports from doctors but not final medical clearance, and others involved in the decision, including the team’s lawyers and Bruschi’s family, have not signed off on it.

Bruschi said this summer he had no intention to come back for the 2005 season. But the speed of his rehabilitation has made it possible for him to accelerate his schedule.

“Anybody we can get back to this football team at this point would help us, regardless of who it is,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said yesterday. “Whoever we can have back, we’ll take back.”

Bruschi is eligible to return from the physically unable to perform list after the sixth week of the season, which starts Monday. Bruschi was not available for comment yesterday. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said yesterday he would leave any comment to Bruschi.

“If Tedy has something to say, I’m sure he’s perfectly capable of saying that himself,” Belichick said. “I have nothing to add to that situation whatsoever. Zero.”

Bruschi has declined repeated interview requests from The Associated Press.

Bruschi, who has a wife and three sons, originally planned to take a year off to recover from the stroke. But his health had improved enough that he began traveling to specialists and has received favorable reports.

Bruschi, 32, suffered a mild stroke at his home in February, less than two days after his first career Pro Bowl and 10 days after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years. He was taken to the hospital after complaining of numbness in his left arm and leg.

Bruschi told The Boston Globe that doctors believe the stroke was the result of a blood clot that traveled through a small hole in his heart. The hole was surgically repaired in March, he said.

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