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Johnson Back in Camp With Patriots

September 6, 2002

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FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson returned to the team Friday but declined to give a specific reason for his three-day absence.

Johnson, a seven-year veteran, said his departure Monday night was ``by no means a knee-jerk reaction.″

``There were some things that happened earlier in the week, and I felt that to protect myself and my self-interest, I did what I had to do,″ he said.

Johnson received a formal five-day letter from the Patriots on Tuesday, meaning he had until Sunday to return before he forfeited his salary and faced suspension.

``It’s a business, and options were limited, so here I am,″ Johnson said.

Johnson’s agent, Jack Mills, told The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe that Johnson left after coach Bill Belichick confirmed he would not be on the 45-man game roster for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

Mills did not immediately return a call Friday for comment.

Belichick said Friday he told the team that every week, seven players on the active roster would not be on the 45-man game roster. He also said the game roster has not been set for Monday’s opener and denied telling Johnson he would not play.

``What I’m telling you is what I told the team, and what I told Ted Johnson,″ he said. ``That’s what I said, that’s what I’m standing by.″

Johnson said the team did not tell him he would be left off the game roster, adding, ``I’d really rather leave that alone.″

Johnson, a second-round pick in 1995, had a career-high 142 tackles in 1998. He’s battled numerous injuries the past few years and has restructured his contract several times, forfeiting about $5.5 million in salary.

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