DENVER (AP) – New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has been cleared by team doctors and could return to practice this week, eight months after suffering a mild stroke.

Bruschi, 32, originally planned to take a year off after the stroke in February and surgery to repair a small hole in his heart a month later. But as his health improved, Bruschi started traveling to see specialists and got favorable reports.

Bruschi was cleared Sunday to return to practice, though the Patriots said the timetable will be left up to him and his family.

“Physically, Tedy is completely back to normal, and is completely healthy,” said Dr. David Greer, a specialist atMass. General Hospital.

“I have no doubt that he will be able to perform physically at a very high level. Tedy’s safety, on and off the field, has always been our number one priority. At this time, I have advised him that, in my opinion, there are no medical reasons for him to delay his return to football.”

Bruschi was rushed to a hospital after complaining of numbness in his left arm and left leg on Feb. 16, just two days after his first career Pro Bowl and 10 days after New England won its third Super Bowl in four years. Bruschi said that doctors believe the stroke was the result of a blood clot that traveled through a small hole in his heart, which was surgically repaired in March.

The Patriots never put Bruschi on the injured list, leaving open the possibility that he might return this season. He is eligible to come of the physically unable to perform list today.

“Everybody knows what Tedy brings to the table and we will see how he feels,” New England quarterback Tom Brady said after New England’s 28-20 loss to Denver on Sunday.

Bruschi has worked out regularly and attended defensive meetings at the team’s training facility since before training camp began in July. “He is a great guy, a presence on the field and in the locker room,” fullback Patrick Pass said. “It’s up to him and his family on when, and if, he is going to make a return to football.”

AP-ES-10-16-05 2136EDT

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