The fact that Troy Brown's locker at Gillette Stadium remained intact proved to be more foresight than oversight by the ever-attentive Patriots staff.
Brown, a fan favorite and important locker room presence for the Patriots the past 12 seasons, has agreed to return to the team.
A team source said yesterday that Brown has agreed to terms and would likely sign a contract by tomorrow, allowing him to join skill position teammates at a passing camp slated for next week.
The Patriots allowed Brown's contract to expire in March, electing not to pay him a $2.5 million roster bonus due at that time. Brown would then have made $2.5 million next season. Details of the upcoming contract were not available.
Brown, who is third in franchise history in receptions (475) and receiving yards (5,516), had just 17 receptions for 184 yards last season, after a 40-catch, 472-yard season in 2003. But he drew praise from team coaches for playing defensive back to help out an injury-saddled secondary, and finished with 17 tackles and three interceptions.
During his brief departure, the Patriots signed two wide receivers - Tim Dwight and David Terrell. Also the team upgraded its secondary by acquiring cornerback Duane Starks from the Arizona Cardinals and signing free agent cornerback Chad Scott from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tickets to individual Patriots games went on sale yesterday at 10 a.m. Five minutes later the entire allotment was sold out, and standing-room-only tickets were gone in less than an hour. This marks the 12th straight season that the team has sold out every regular-season game before the season. A few hundred tickets remain for the two preseason games at Gillette Stadium -- against the New Orleans Saints (Aug. 18) and the New York Giants (Sept. 1) -- and may be purchased through Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 617-931-2222 or 508-931-2222 . . . Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, making a public appearance at a charity function yesterday, was asked by Channel 4's Steve Burton how he felt and responded, ''Well, how do I look? I'm doing fine. I'm doing great." Asked about his playing status, he said, ''That's a decision I'm not going to rush to make. During the season we take it one game at a time and I'm taking it one day at a time." In March, the Globe reported that Bruschi, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl, had retained the services of an agent to represent him, and they are discussing the possibility of Bruschi sitting out the 2005 season for health reasons with a possible return in 2006. ''That's one of the options," Bruschi said yesterday. ''I have a lot of options. Those are the ones that I am weighing and those are the ones that I haven't decided upon yet."