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Bledsoe cleared, but Pats say Brady will start vs. Rams

FOXBORO, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was cleared by three different doctors and could be ready to play Sunday night against the St.
Louis Rams, a team source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The doctors, however, still want to make sure Bledsoe regains 100 percent of his strength and conditioning. Bledsoe has lost 20 pounds since suffering internal bleeding in Week 2 and has been training the last two weeks.

Originally, the same source said Bledsoe would miss eight weeks, but that doctors at one stretch doubted whether he would be able to return the rest of the season. The source said Bledsoe's doctors, whom he described as conservative by nature, now believe his recovery will allow him to return to the field.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he expects Bledsoe to get the OK this week. But that doesn't mean he
will replace Tom Brady, who is 5-2 as a starter since Bledsoe's
chest injury, as the starting quarterback.

"I can't answer any questions as to what will happen down the
road," Belichick said. "We expect Tom to start against St.
Louis."

The team did not have meetings on Monday, and neither Bledsoe
nor Brady was available for comment. But after Sunday's 21-11
victory over Buffalo, in which Brady completed 15 of 21 passes for
107 yards and a touchdown, he said he was only thinking about the
game.

"I'll let Drew be concerned about how he feels and when he is
ready to go," Brady said. "I don't know when he is coming back
and all I know is I am going to keep playing as hard as I can."

Bledsoe sustained massive bleeding in his chest when he was hit
by the New York Jets' Mo Lewis.
The Patriots lost both games Bledsoe started this season.

Brady, who played at Michigan and was selected in the sixth
round of the 2000 draft, moved ahead of Damon Huard in training
camp to become the No. 2 quarterback.

Brady has completed 140 of 221 passes for 1,426 yards, 11
touchdowns and five interceptions.

"I think if we had lost the last seven games, that probably
would look a little different than winning five of the last
seven," Belichick said. "But until I see it, I just don't know.
I'm going to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win every
week."

Bledsoe has been the team's emergency, or third-string,
quarterback for the past three games, meaning he would have played
only if the first two quarterbacks were injured in the game -- and
probably only handed off.

Belichick said Brady would take most of the snaps with the first
team in practice, though Bledsoe would get some. The questions are
how Bledsoe shakes off the rust accumulated over the past seven
games and how quickly he returns to playing shape.

"I don't think it's fair to do evaluations based on what he's
done so far because he hasn't been fully cleared to go," Belichick
said. "It's one thing to go out there and throw a few passes and
rotate with a few guys. It's another thing to throw all of the
passes in a game.

"Until you've been in a game, it's not the same as being in a
game. It's not like the preseason; we're trying to win every
game."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.