by Scott Benson

I’ve got to work on my headlines. That one sounds kind of nasty.

Rodney Harrison returned to Gillette Stadium yesterday for the first time since he was suspended by the NFL in August for purchasing and using a performance enhancing drug.

The former defensive captain was enthusiastically welcomed back by teammates. It remains to be seen whether this welcome will spread to the stands and the press box, or whether Harrison’s return will touch off another tedious debate about PED’s, or cheating, or whatever else might get traction in the tedious debate department. 

Those aren’t the big issues for the Patriots, as Christopher Gasper of the Globe points out in our Feature of the Day. The pressing question for New England is how to integrate Harrison back into a defense that has been the NFL’s best during his absence.

The team of James Sanders and Eugene Wilson has been an effective backline during the season’s first month, as evidenced by the lack of big plays against them. Harrison’s role in past successes is unquestioned; what remains to be seen is how smoothly he can make his mark on the current team.

The Patriots have until next Monday to make a roster decision on the veteran.

Damn, Vince Wilfork is pissed. He’s not comfortable with any of us thinking he took a cheap shot at Buffalo’s JP Losman a couple of weeks ago, and he sure isn’t at peace with thefine he received for his trouble. So yesterday he revealed his intention to appeal the NFL’s decision. Far be it from me to tell an angry 300 lb. guy to “let it go.” But he would assuredly be best served by keeping in mind the biggest challenges lie before, and not behind, him.

Did you have any idea that David Thomas (leg) was hurt on Monday night? Me neither, until Mike Reiss mentioned it in his notebook this morning. How the hell did that happen?  I don’t even remember seeing him on the field. Don’t sign with the Dolphins, Marcellus Rivers. You may still have a chance at a ring.

Reiss also reminded us that Donte Stallworth had his best game as a Patriot on Monday night. No less of an expert than Tom Brady says so. If I had the GDRV to do over, I would have pointed out his impressive 23 yard gain off a screen pass from Brady, which converted a 2nd and 19 with some nifty run after the catch action. I don’t know what kind of new world I’m living in when Donte Stallworth can play receiver for the Patriots and barely get noticed.

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