Patriots' Harrison healthy again for matchup of unbeatens Print
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Friday, 02 November 2007 00:24
NFL Headline News

 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -Rodney Harrison broke his right shoulder blade the last time the Patriots faced the Colts in the regular season. A knee injury kept him out of their next meeting, the AFC championship game.
No wonder he doesn't want to look back.
Whatever the question, there's a good chance New England's safety will have the same answer: Sunday's game between two unbeaten teams has nothing to do with the past.
He won't even compare this season's squads to those that played barely nine months ago in Indianapolis' 38-34 win that sent the Colts on to the Super Bowl where they beat Chicago.
``What relevance does that have? It doesn't even matter.'' Harrison said Thursday. ``Last year's game, it has nothing to do with what's going to happen on Sunday.''
One difference is that he's healthy again. He also could be fresher than some of the Colts, having been suspended for the first four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, reportedly by using human growth hormone.
He's feeling more comfortable with each game. Now he can get back at the team that ended the Patriots' hopes for four championships in six years.
So it must be special to him.
``I'm just anxious to play football,'' Harrison said. ``It doesn't matter who it's against, whether it's against the Colts or Cleveland, it really doesn't matter. It's just another game.''
The routine has been the same each week this season for the Patriots (8-0): Tom Brady throws at least three touchdown passes, they win by at least 17 points, then coach Bill Belichick and his players say none of that matters going forward.
Whatever the next game is, the say, is the biggest game. This time it happens to be against the Colts (7-0).
``It's not like if we beat them or they beat us, it's going to go down as two or three wins. It's one game,'' Harrison said. ``We understand (the hype), but it's just another game.''
It will be back at the RCA Dome, where the Colts overcame a 21-3 deficit to win the AFC championship.
``Let's just play,'' Harrison said. ``It doesn't matter if I played in Foxborough High.''
New England has lost its last three games against Indianapolis, but Harrison missed all of them, except for three plays. He was healthy for the other four matchups since joining the Patriots in 2003 and they went 4-0.
``Rodney's a great safety and he's a great player,'' linebacker Junior Seau said. ``Whenever you have a caliber of player like Rodney, obviously it's to your liking.''
Seau's season ended when he broke his arm in the 11th game last year. He also missed the AFC title game.
``It was a tough day,'' he said. ``I didn't get to watch it. I went to surf. It was a bittersweet type of game. I was in San Diego. I was feeling sorry for myself so I went to surf.''
Now the Patriots have two of their solid, savvy veterans back to help stop Peyton Manning.
Seau has his single-season high three interceptions, two of them in a 34-17 win over Cleveland, New England's closest game. Harrison has two sacks in just four games.
``I feel a lot more comfortable,'' Harrison said. ``Obviously, the speed of the game, I'm catching up with. The ability to see things and recognize them, I just feel a lot better out there.''
He came off the bench in his first game this year, against Cleveland, then started at strong safety the past three, including last Sunday's 52-7 rout of Washington.
Free safety Eugene Wilson didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday and could miss his second straight game with an ankle injury. James Sanders started during Harrison's suspension and has kept that first-string spot. Harrison feels comfortable with both.
``I've worked extremely hard'' since his suspension ended, he said. ``I just feel good, happy to be out there.''
Another Harrison may not be out there on Sunday.
Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison missed his second day of practice Thursday with a bruised knee that has sidelined him for two of the last three games. Before the practice, coach Tony Dungy said it was doubtful Harrison would play if he didn't practice Thursday.
Rodney Harrison's shoulder injury occurred when he tackled Marvin Harrison on the Colts' third offensive play of last year's 27-20 loss in the Patriots' eighth game. He missed six games, then hurt his knee in the regular season finale
The Patriots still must stop Reggie Wayne (44 catches, 5 touchdowns) and Dallas Clark (32 catches, 6 touchdowns).
Manning's confidence level should have risen with three straight wins over the Patriots after he went 2-10 against them.
``It sure has,'' Rodney Harrison said. ``He beat us the last three times. With winning comes confidence.''
Confidence also comes with the return of a hard-hitting safety who can sack Manning and blanket his receivers.
``It's good to have him, let's put it that way,'' Belichick said. ``I couldn't put a percentage on it, but it's good to have him.''
 

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