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Monday, November 19
Brady likely to start ahead of healthier Bledsoe

Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are sticking with Tom Brady at quarterback and leaving a healthy Drew Bledsoe on the bench for a second consecutive game.

"I don't see any changes this week," coach Bill Belichick said Monday, a day after the Patriots lost to the St. Louis Rams 24-17.

Brady was 19-for-27 for 185 yards Sunday night, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions to drop to 5-3 as a starter. Bledsoe, knocked out by a sheared blood vessel in his chest in Week 2, was cleared by doctors to return this week, but did not get into the game.

The Patriots took a 10-7 lead and were on the verge of going up two scores when Antowain Smith fumbled on the 3 yard-line and the Rams (8-1) went 97 yards to take a halftime lead.

"It took points off the board and gave them an opportunity," said Belichick, whose team fell to 5-5. "It obviously wasn't the way we were looking to end the half."

Players were unavailable for comment on Monday. They will begin preparing for the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

Asked if Bledsoe will get a larger share of the snaps in practice to help shake off the rust of eight weeks away, Belichick said, "The starting quarterback gets most of the snaps. That's the way it's always been.'

"We're going to have to get the guy ready who's going to play," Belichick said. "We'll do the best we can with everybody else."

Bledsoe was the starter when New England lost its first two games. Against the Jets on Sept. 23, he was hit by linebacker Mo Lewis and knocked out of the game.

Brady, who played at Michigan and was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, jumped ahead of Damon Huard in training camp to become the No. 2 quarterback. He has completed 159 of 248 passes for 1,611 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

But the $103 million contract Bledsoe signed in the offseason makes it unlikely he will sit on the bench the rest of the season.

"I have great confidence in my ability to play this game," he said last week after he was cleared to return. "I intend to make it hard for Brady to stay on the field."

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