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Health care system in place

Brown poised to play Sunday

FOXBOROUGH -- And then there was one . . .


That's right. Only one Patriot failed to practice yesterday because of injury -- safety Chris Akins. The rest of the team, including wide receiver Troy Brown, was able to practice.

It appears Brown, who practiced for the second straight day is more definite to play Sunday against Jacksonville. The veteran has a hamstring pull and the Patriots have been very cautious about putting Brown back on the field the last two weeks. The receiver said he has been able to play for a while, but his pregame warmups haven't persuaded the medical staff or the coaching staff to activate him. That is expected to change Sunday, barring a setback.

Earlier this week, the team released receiver J.J. Stokes to make room for fullback Larry Centers. The Patriots still have healthy receivers David Givens, Deion Branch, Dedric Ward, and Bethel Johnson. The Patriots prefer to have five active receivers, an indication Brown is getting closer.

Bill Belichick yesterday remained cautious about Brown, but the veteran receiver has been getting treatment and apparently hasn't had any setbacks the past two days.

Complaints piling up

The Patriots are gathering more information on incidents during Sunday's game against Miami that included a few arrests and some injuries as a result of the large amounts of snow at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have received complaints from some fans in attendance as well as several of the 24,000-plus no-shows.

Spokesman Stacey James said the team is trying to answer some of the concerns individually.

The team might be formulating a plan to make it up to the fans. The New York Islanders recently rewarded patrons who attended a game on a stormy night last weekend with tickets to a future game. That scenario is unlikely to be repeated by the Patriots, because their games are already sold out.

The Patriots lost considerable money, including parking and concession revenue. On top of that, the team must pay snow removal bills, which according to team sources, has escalated well into six figures. Snow removal continued at Gillette yesterday.

New deals?

This is the time of year when many teams begin to examine new contracts for their assistants. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who may get some head coaching feelers, would likely be due for a raise, as would many of the assistants. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has another year left on his deal, but he, too, may be considered for a head coaching position . . . Patriots left tackle Matt Light has applied for an appearance on the hit TV series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." On the show, five gay men give a straight man a complete makeover. "I just think it would be a blast," said Light. "I really hope I get chosen." . . . Former Patriots fullback Marc Edwards told the Florida Times-Union, "The Patriots made a very similar contract offer [to the Jaguars' three-year, $3 million deal], but I thought it was just a better overall situation for me here," said Edwards, who has started all 13 games this season. "I still think that way. I'm very happy here." The Patriots have had an unsettled fullback situation, losing Fred McCrary several times during the season and recently re-signed Centers, who missed the middle of the season with a knee injury.

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afc east standings
  W L T Pct. PF PA
Patriots 11 2 0 .846 20.7 16.1
Dolphins 8 5 0 .615 18.5 15.6
Bills 6 7 0 .462 16.5 15.4
Jets 5 8 0 .385 18.5 19.6
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