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Updated: Banta-Cain underwent surgery, out 4-5 weeks

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  July 24, 2011 05:21 PM

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Outside linebacker and the pass rush - already two areas of concern for many Patriots fans - have taken a major hit:

Tully Banta-Cain underwent surgery for what was termed an abdominal tear on Friday, according to a league source. It was a problem Banta-Cain dealt with last season, but had improved since the season ended - the source said it had been feeling "fine" - until recent workouts, when it started to bother him again.

Banta-Cain, who turns 31 next month, is headed into his ninth season and is the longest-tenured Patriots' linebacker. He had 50 tackles and 5 sacks last year.

This story is developing, including when Banta-Cain might make his return.

However, this changes things for the Patriots and they will almost certainly be in the market for an outside linebacker when free agency opens within the week.

UPDATE (5:20 p.m.): Just spoke with a second source, who said the timetable for recovery is 4 to 5 weeks. It wasn't a tear of the abdominal muscle - that could have been season-ending - but rather a strain. The surgeon tightened up the affected area, and the surgery went well.

Patriots' team doctors knew about the injury when the season ended last year and gave Banta-Cain, who has trained both here and Massachusetts and in his native California during the workout, a course of action for how to handle the injury during the lockout. Feeling better, Banta-Cain began upping the intensity of his workouts, and about three to four weeks ago it began flaring up again, the source said. Banta-Cain tried to wait until the lockout ended and he was back in the care of team medical and training personnel, but as it dragged on, he feared losing more of the regular season by waiting.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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