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Sideline doesn't suit Law

He's eager to get back in uniform and on field

FOXBOROUGH -- In tutoring his fellow cornerbacks between series last Sunday in Miami, Ty Law learned a few things himself. About himself.

First off, he's figured out that he's not the headset-wearing, press-conference-giving type. "I was coaching. I definitely know that's not my second career," Law said yesterday, the cast removed from his sore right ankle and his hopes high that he'll return to receiving instruction rather than continue providing it this week against Cleveland.

"To go out there and help the guys and tell them what I see, it was fun, just really being into the game.

"I picked up on certain things that I probably wouldn't have picked up if I was out there on the field. I'll take that experience back on the field with me. I just got another perspective and a better appreciation for being able to go out there and play. I'm looking forward to going back out there and playing, and I want to suit up as soon as possible."

Besides, this daily treatment thing requires too much time. "I'm putting in a lot more hours than the healthy guys, I'll tell you that," he said. "I feel like a coach right now, being down here so long. I gotta get back on the field. This is not in my nature to sit around. At the end of the day, I'm trying to go home."

In missing his first game since being suspended for the 2000 season finale, Law also was reminded how uncomfortable a sideline can be on a Sunday.

"Sometimes you come to work and it's like anybody else, you might not feel like writing today," said Law, listed as "questionable" with the month-old sprained ligament in his right ankle and a recently reported rib injury. " `I don't feel like practicing today, it's cold, I'm achy,' whatever. But to not be able to go out there and play, especially when I tried so hard pregame. I told them to hold off, hold off, hold off, let me see if I can get it together."

This is why doctors, trainers, and coaches -- people with more objective eyes -- are important. If it were up to Law, he would have toughed it out again and probably would have had to sit for long stretches of the game, as he has in the past three. Law, who traveled to Miami ahead of the team to consult with personal physicians (they decided to have his ankle placed in a hard cast Monday), worked out before the game in an effort to stay off the inactive list. He even put on an acting performance for the coaches and training staff, though he ultimately wasn't convincing in his role as a healthy corner.

"If I would have gone out there and played, it could have set me back a little bit," he said. "[Coach Bill] Belichick, he basically pulled the plug on me. And I think it was the right thing. I went out there and I didn't run very well. I tried to fake it as much as I can. It was just a point of how long would I have lasted in the game? The last few weeks, I haven't finished the game. I did what I could and played well while I was out there, but to play four quarters . . . I wasn't sure because one thing kept happening, one injury, then the next injury. So it was probably time to take a break.

"It wasn't getting any better. I didn't want that to happen, as far as setting myself back. If I'm out there, it's a possibility I could be taking somebody else's roster spot that probably could go out there contributing more than I am. All those things were going through my head. Right now it's about the team, it's not about Ty Law going out there and playing if I can't finish the game."

Law said his doctors have not prescribed surgery. "I'm trying not to get cut on no more, man. I've had enough surgeries throughout the career, and if I can limit surgeries, I will. If I have to sit out a game or two to avoid surgery, I think anybody would do that, that's the smart thing to do. We have a lot of games left. That was only Game 7. I want to be out there for the rest of the games and not set myself back, because if I would have gone out there, it was a high probability, they told me, that I would aggravate both injuries more and possibly miss three, four, or five games."

With the Patriots' bye week approaching (Nov. 9), a logical course of rehabilitation would be for Law to sit out against the Browns and Broncos and return for the Nov. 16 game against Dallas. That would give him five weeks of rest since his last game. That also would make too much sense.

"You know who you're talking to," Law said. "I'm not the smartest guy when it comes to injuries. So that isn't the way I'm going to handle it, I'll tell you that. I'm trying to go. I don't want to set myself back any, but this is football. Anything could happen if I'm perfectly healthy. In the New York game, I was perfectly healthy and look what happened. Who would have ever thought that would happen? It was just a freak play. You take chances every time you step on the field. I'm going out there and I'm going to take another chance. Yes, I'm hurting in certain areas, but who's not?"

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