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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Gillette field gets the OK from NFL

FOXBOROUGH -- Concerned about a potential quagmire at Gillette Stadium because of heavy rains Wednesday on the uncovered field, the NFL yesterday sent a representative to gauge the playing field.

"Our representative said there was no issue with the field," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "He reported that the field was dry, the footing is excellent."

Aiello said the field was uncovered because the grounds crew painted it Wednesday. Although the Patriots are not obligated to cover the field until tomorrow in the case of inclement weather, Aiello said the Patriots have been very cooperative. The field was covered last night and Aiello said it would be covered tomorrow night.

The field had dried well, said Aiello, even though there was some precipitation yesterday. The warmer temperatures and windy conditions also helped. Puddles remained in some spots on the edges of the field. The state-of-the-art field has heating coils underneath the turf, which has also aided the process.

Last season, the Patriots were asked to re-sod the field before the playoffs.

The Patriots practiced outdoors yesterday to get used to playing in soggy, slower conditions.

What is it?
Coach Bill Belichick was asked at his press conference yesterday if there was anything he could add to Richard Seymour being upgraded to questionable on the injury report. "No, it is what it is," Belichick responded. Early yesterday afternoon, Seymour was seen by a Globe reporter strolling through the Prudential Mall in Boston. Seymour, who injured his left knee against the Jets Dec. 26, was listed on the team's daily report as missing a portion of practice yesterday and was not in the locker room during the media session. The team practiced for less than two hours and there were no meetings afterward . . . Will his first playoff game bring out the jitters for running back Corey Dillon? "No, I don't think so," Belichick said. "That guy has played a lot of football. He has played in a lot of big games. We have had guys like that, [Christian] Fauria, [Roman] Phifer. No, I don't think that's anywhere near comparable to a rookie that is going through it."

Harris re-signed
The Patriots re-signed an old face -- defensive back Antwan Harris. Harris replaced Lawyer Milloy in the opening game of 2003 against Buffalo, but soon lost his job to Eugene Wilson. The team worked out veteran cornerbacks Ike Charlton, Terry Fair, and Tod McBride, but settled on Harris. The Patriots made some other moves, including placing linebacker Eric Alexander on injured reserve. Alexander went from questionable Wednesday to IR yesterday. Alexander had an ankle injury and was wearing a removable cast. The team also signed long snapper Mike Solwold to the practice squad and released running back Kory Chapman from the practice squad. Harris, 27, was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (187th overall) in 2000 and spent four seasons with the Patriots. He played in 52 regular-season games with two starts. He made two big plays in the postseason. In the 2001 AFC Championship game against the Steelers, Harris grabbed a lateral from Troy Brown and ran 49 yards for a touchdown following a blocked field goal. In the Patriots' 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, he created a turnover late in the first half that led to a touchdown . . . Cornerback Hank Poteat, who signed Tuesday, played with Mike Vrabel, Josh Miller, Rodney Bailey (who has been on IR all season), and Justin Kurpeikis during his Steeler days. "This is a great opportunity and I'm out there doing what everybody else is doing," Poteat said. "I just have to ask a lot of questions and watch a lot of film and just be ready if my number is called." . . . Asked if he prefers to have his team portrayed as the underdog, Belichick said, "It doesn't make any difference to me what somebody else thinks about the game."

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