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Harrison is itching to return

CINCINNATI - Suspended safety Rodney Harrison is eligible to return to the Patriots today after serving his four-game suspension for violating the league's banned substance policy, and according to his agent, he can't wait.

"He's big-time pumped up, ready to go," said the agent, Steve Feldman.

Harrison has been suspended without pay since Sept. 1 after he admitted to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that he used a performance-enhancing substance. Harrison's name came up in an Internet drug scam investigation being conducted by the Albany County (N.Y.) District Attorney's office, which alerted the league to his purchase of human growth hormone.

Feldman said Harrison has been training vigorously, doing running, lifting, and speed and agility work.

"He's in great shape; he's been working out daily," said Feldman. "He expects to be 100 percent by the time he shows up [today] or Wednesday. He'll do whatever he's asked to do, whatever role that might be."

Patriots players are scheduled to be off today. Prior to last night's game, defensive coordinator Dean Pees was asked if having Harrison back will be a boost to the defense, which entered last night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals as the top-ranked unit in the league.

"We'll just have to wait and see," said Pees. "I don't know to say a boost - I think the guys have been playing pretty hard.

"Like I said before when I was asked the question when he was going to be out, when somebody is out, it gives somebody else an opportunity. I think some of those guys have taken advantage of that opportunity and have done well.

"Do I want to have Rodney back? Absolutely, but I think it has also helped us get some other guys some playing experience so that maybe we'll have some depth, however we decide to go forward. It's too premature to say what we will do."

Third-year veteran James Sanders started the first four games in place of Harrison, including last night. Entering last night, the 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound Sanders had been credited with 15 tackles (11 solo) by the team's coaches.

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