Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back

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Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Drew Bledsoe held the Patriots single-game passing recordfor 17 years. That all changed on Monday night, as Tom Bradys 517 passingyards against the Miami Dolphins trumped Bledsoes 426 passing yards againstthe Minnesota Vikings in 1994.

It was a game that Bledsoe recalls to be one of his greatestmoments in a Patriots uniform. There were many great moments in No. 11snine-year career with the Patriots. And as a result, hell be inducted into theteams Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Bledsoe returned to Gillette Stadium on Thursday and wasofficially fitted for his red Patriots Hall of Fame blazer.

Its kind of surreal, said Bledsoe. I live a prettynormal life back in Oregon. Im coaching flag football and playing some golfand making some wine. Then all of a sudden to come back into this world again,when I havent been involved in it in quite a while, its very cool.

Bledsoe was surprised to see Brady break his single-gamepassing record on Monday night, not because he didnt think Brady could do it,but because he thought Brady had already broken them all.

I was quite surprised, honestly, to hear that I still hadone of those records, to be perfectly honest, said Bledsoe. Toms never beena guy that worries about or thinks about numbers, other than wins and losses.It was truly not a big deal to him, and as I said, I was surprised to know thatI still had anything left in that record book anyway.

It was Brady who replaced Bledsoe when he went down with an injuryin 2001. Since then, the Patriots have been Bradys team.

But like it or not, Bledsoes success in a Patriots uniformis a major reason why the Patriots are no longer the laughing stock ofprofessional football.

Some could argue, Gillette Stadium is the house that Drewbuilt.

Its humbling, first of all, said Bledsoe. But its alsosomething that I take great pride in. I take great pride in being a part ofthose teams, and I emphasize being a part of those teams. Being thequarterback, obviously its the same old game where you get more credit thanyou deserve, but being a part of those teams that started to turn thisfranchise in the right direction, is something I take a lot of pride in.

As he took it all in, Bledsoe was asked to recall his greatestPatriots memory. He mentioned his record-setting game against the Vikings atFoxboro Stadium in 1994 (his 70 passing attempts and 45 completions are stillNFL records to this day).

But the first memory that came to his mind was the 2001-02AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, when Bledsoe came off the bench for aninjured Brady, and went 10-of-21 for 102 yards and a touchdown, leading thePatriots to the Super Bowl.

Maybe coming back into that AFC Championship game againstthe Steelers, said Bledsoe. That was a poignant moment for me for a lot ofreasons. The magnitude of the game, and then having not been able to play forquite a while. And then being able to get back on the field for that game. Thatone stands out.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

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Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old. 

Over the last seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.

In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores. 

"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."

A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"

Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means. 

Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks. 

Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

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Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took to the practice field behind Gillette Stadium on Friday with all but one player. 

Wideout Danny Amendola was the only player not present at the session. Newly-acquired receiver Griff Whalen was present and wearing No. 14. 

Safety Jordan Richards was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12. Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Elandon Roberts (hamstring), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot) were all limited in practice on Thursday, but were on the field Friday.