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Patriots notebook

Mayo makes quick return

CHAD OCHOCINCO Profanity-laced tweets CHAD OCHOCINCO Profanity-laced tweets
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / October 15, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - When the Patriots assembled for practice yesterday and the media began taking attendance, they expected to see Vince Wilfork return after he missed Thursday’s session to tend to a personal matter, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe) had let it slip that he’d also be taking part after sitting out the day before.

But there was one player who wasn’t expected to be spotted: Jerod Mayo.

The Patriots’ top linebacker was on the field less than two weeks after suffering a sprained left medial collateral ligament in Oakland. The team termed Mayo as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Cowboys, though he is not expected to play.

Mayo also suffered a sprained MCL in the 2009 season opener, and rushed his return. He was not the same player for the rest of the season, so the Patriots will likely be more cautious with his recovery this time.

Mayo’s appearance, however, is a good sign that he may be ready to play after the bye, Oct. 30 in Pittsburgh.

Mayo and Green-Ellis are two of a dozen Patriots listed as questionable for the Cowboys game.The others are: Leigh Bodden (thumb), Sergio Brown (chest), Ras-I Dowling (hip), Julian Edelman (ankle), Aaron Hernandez (knee), Albert Haynesworth (back), Kyle Love (back), Matthew Slater (ribs), Sebastian Vollmer (back), and Danny Woodhead (ankle).

Vollmer could return after missing four of the first five games (rookie Nate Solder has started at right tackle in his place). Edelman, the team’s top kickoff and punt returner, could also return. With Edelman on the shelf last week against the Jets, Wes Welker fielded punts and rookie Stevan Ridley handled kickoffs.

Safety Josh Barrett, who did not practice all week because of hamstring and thumb injuries, was declared out.

Twitter rage

Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who was banned from using Twitter for three weeks after losing a bet, returned with a vengeance.

Yesterday, he caused a stir when he responded with profanity to fans who criticized his play.

By last night, however, Ochocinco had removed the obscenity-laced tweets.

Yesterday in the locker room, Ochocinco said he is feeling great. “Four and one for the first time, ever,’’ he said, referring to the Patriots’ record.

Great report

It’s easy to forget that Welker ever played for a team other than the Patriots, since he’s enjoyed such success since arriving in New England. But he was a member of the Dolphins for three seasons.

While in Miami, he got to spend time with Jason Garrett, who was then the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach, and is now the Cowboys’ head coach.

“Jason is just such a great coach,’’ said Welker. “He always put so much confidence in you and knowing that you could go out there and be successful, and he puts you in a position to do that. A great coach and a great guy.’’

An Oklahoma native, Welker confirmed that he rooted for the Cowboys while growing up.

“I grew up in Oklahoma City, so the era of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, the whole deal - I was definitely a fan of them,’’ Welker said.

Coming along

Coach Bill Belichick was asked yesterday about the progress of running back Shane Vereen. One of the Patriots’ two second-round picks, Vereen wasn’t active for the first two games of the season, was in uniform but didn’t play in Week 3, and has played on special teams each of the last two weeks. He has yet to record a carry.

“Shane is a smart guy, works hard. He’s been able to participate now for several weeks,’’ Belichick said. “He’s been able to make some improvement, string some practices and reps together, both on the scout team and running some plays on our offense. It’s been good for him. He’s getting better every week. I think he’s definitely headed in the right direction.’’

Vereen’s progress also suffered when he missed time in training camp because of a hamstring injury.

Not this time

The Cowboys declared four players out: kicker David Buehler (right groin), guard Derrick Dockery (knee), fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring), and defensive end Jason Hatcher (calf). Quarterback Tony Romo, who is still dealing with a cracked rib suffered in Week 2 against the 49ers, will wear a Kevlar vest for the game . . . The Patriots signed defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, a 2008 third-round pick of the Bears. In 37 games with Chicago, he had 55 tackles and three sacks. To make room, defensive back Phillip Adams was released. Adams was cut, re-signed, and cut in the span of six days . . . New England has won 17 straight home games against NFC opponents since 2002.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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