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Around The AFC East: New England Patriots

Continuing on with this week's edition of ATAFCE, we welcome in "MaPatsFan" from Pats Pulpit, as we turn our attention on Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Matty I: Everyone in the media seems to be on the "Patriots bandwagon" because Tom Brady looks healthy right now playing in shorts and participating in non-contact OTAs. But I think back to when Daunte Culpepper was coming off of the same injury and how great he looked in training camp and even the preseason before his sub-par play once the regular season began. Are any Patriot fans taking caution with their optimism for 2009 in regards to Brady's health? From where I sit, it seems like everyone is just obsessing over the return of "the savior" and forgetting about the risks involved when Brady gets into live game action. So what's the general feeling in New England? Is everyone just expecting Brady to return to his former self?

MaPatsFan: Most Patriots fans are sick and tired of all the hype, pomp, and circumstance.  Sure, there's reason to cheer, but that was one heck of an injury.  The pessimist in me says this is a carefully "orchestrated" media campaign proclaiming "His Terrific-ness" healed, but a bit rusty.  He's been tossing a ball on the beach with his orthopedic surgeon, who says he's recovering twice as fast as anyone he's seen, or working on routes with Moss and Welker (who say he looks great, mind you).  It's sickeningly sweet, in my opinion.  I can only imagine how a rival fan would feel. ;-)

Most of the NE fans I've talked with are "cautiously optimistic".  We're not buying into the hype one bit.  I'll admit I enjoy seeing him back on the field and throwing footballs around but I, in no way, am disillusioned enough to think he's ready until I see him at full tilt, full pads, with tight ends bearing down on him (Jason Taylor anyone :-( ).  Physically, he has said he's a bit rusty, but not because of his knee.  He explains the rustiness as not being on the field for so long.  I buy that explanation.  If you stop doing something for a long period of time, naturally you'll atrophy a bit.  That can be fixed.  However, my big concern is the subconscious "protection" he may engage in to protect his knee.  When a defender's coming at him, will he unknowingly turn a certain way or lose concentration?  Who knows.  It's a all about a live game situation.  That's when I'll make a determination.

My Take: Yes, folks, there are logical Patriot fans in this country.  I know it's hard to believe, but "PatsFan" just proved it above.  The truth is - until he gets in live game action against other teams whose defenders want to knock the crap out of Brady, we simply won't know how close he is to being his former self.

Be sure to head over to PP to read some discussion on the classic Dolphins/Patriots rivalry.