Bledsoe gets medical OK

Nov. 13, 2001 at 12:56 PM
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FOXBORO, Mass., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Drew Bledsoe has been given final medical clearance to return, but Tom Brady will start at quarterback when the New England Patriots host the St. Louis Rams on Sunday night, it was announced Tuesday.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Bledsoe has not played since suffering a "sheared" blood vessel in his chest cavity after being hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in a Sept. 23 game.

Bledsoe and members of the medical team that treated him will hold a news conference this afternoon at Massachusetts General Hospital. Bledsoe lost 20 pounds as a result of the internal bleeding, but resumed training two weeks ago.

However, Brady has surprisingly led the Patriots to a 5-2 record in Bledsoe's absence and will remain the starter.

"Whether it be the quarterback position or not there's something to say for staying with the hot hand," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said.

The Patriots dropped both games started by Bledsoe, scoring a total of 20 points in losses to Cincinnati and the Jets. He completed 40-of-66 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Brady, a sixth-round pick in 2000, beat out Damon Huard for the backup job in the preseason, and has provided consistency for the Patriots, with the exception of a four-interception game at Denver. He has completed 140-of-221 passes for 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The 29-year-old Bledsoe signed a 10-year, $103 million extension last March. The top overall pick in the 1993 draft had missed just six games due to injuries before this season.

He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1994, 1996 and 1997 and helped lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl following the 1996 season.

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