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Patriots' Harris picking up pieces

FOXBOROUGH -- No one needs to tell the Patriots it's difficult to move forward if you spend much time looking back. With a key matchup at Philadelphia tomorrow, the directive is to move on from last Sunday's debacle at Buffalo and the much-talked-about release of strong safety Lawyer Milloy.

It is that transaction that made fifth-year veteran safety Antwan Harris a starter for only the second time in his career (the last time at Miami Oct. 7, 2001). Harris had three tackles (2 solo) last week, now seven stops from matching his output from all of last season.

But like his teammates, the 26-year-old Harris does not want to recount last week, especially with such a formidable opponent awaiting.

"I'm off of last week," he said. "I'm just on this week now."

Despite his starting role, Harris said he hasn't changed his preparation.

"I just go out there and practice hard, and work on communication with the defensive backs and the rest of the defense," he said. "We make sure that we get everybody on the same page. I just make sure I prepare by studying during the week."

Safety Rodney Harrison said his teammate will be invaluable because of his versatility.

"Antwan is one of those guys who is a cornerback/safety," said Harrison. "Whenever you have a guy who is so versatile, you can do a lot of things with him, put him up against wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, and use him on special teams. It's like having three players in one."

Surely some of the preparation the secondary underwent this week included shoring up a passing attack that yielded 17 receptions for 230 yards and a touchdown to the Bills.

And the Eagles bring their own set of challenges.

The passing attack is anchored by Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb and features playmaker James Thrash, slot receiver Freddie Mitchell, and developing wideout Todd Pinkston.

"They're tall, big receivers, and I guess that gives them an advantage," said Harris about a trio whose shortest member is the 5-foot-11-inch Mitchell. Harris added, "We're small defensive backs, so we have to give them different changeups and try to bother them. We just have to play hard and strong, and if we can play that kind of defense, it will help us out a lot and keep us in the game."

In the Eagles' Monday night loss to defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, Mitchell caught the team's longest pass -- for 15 yards. Running back Duce Staley had the most receptions -- seven for 46 yards. In fact, only five receivers caught more in Week 1. The Eagles' offensive MVP is coming off his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Staley missed most of training camp in a holdout, but didn't appear to miss a beat.

"They have a complete offense with the running game and getting Duce Staley back," said Harris. "It was a help for them, not to put down the other running backs. But with him back and the great receivers they have, they have a great offense. You just can't key on one person. You have to get on everybody.

"You have to stop McNabb -- well, try to stop McNabb or contain him in the pocket. The defensive backs have to be good there, as well as the secondary as a whole, guarding the receivers."

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