Steve Burton (page was down earlier) on CBS4 last night reported that sources indicate to him that Tedy Bruschi will be returning to practice with the Patriots, as early as next week, and based on how that goes, it will be determined if he’s going to return to game action. Burton says he can “guarantee” that Bruschi will be on the practice field in the next three weeks. Karen Guregian’s notebook reports on the report, adding that Robert Kraft and his lawyer might throw up a few more obstacles in Bruschi’s path, so his return is anything but a given at this point. Alan Greenberg has more on the story, noting that when asked directly about coming back this season, the most telling sign was that Bruschi didn’t deny the possibility.

Jerome Solomon has a nice report on Bethel Johnson, who seems to have grown up quite a bit, is handling new duties on special teams, and even caught a 55 yard TD pass from Tom Brady last Sunday. Tom E Curran looks at Corey Dillon, who quietly went over the 10,000 rushing yard mark for his career last weekend, but who isn’t generally acknowledged as an All-Time great NFL running back. Karen Guregian writes about Tom Brady and the awe and respect his presence inspires in opponents for his clutch play. Michael Lazarus on however, developed his own “Clutch Factor” formula, and ranks Brady 10th in that category among quarterbacks, behind guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell. I’m thinking Lazarus might need to re-think his theories. Eric McHugh thinks you can make a strong case for Brady as league MVP thus far. Guregian also has a short report on Bill Belichick acknowledging Dillon’s reaching the rushing milestone last Sunday.

Check out Greg Doyle’s BSMW Gameday for a preview of Patriots/Broncos. Michael Parente reports on Arturo Freeman joining the Patriots to add depth to the secondary. Freeman has seen plenty of the Patriots, having spent five years playing against them with the Dolphins. Chris Kennedy has a look at Daniel Graham heading home to Denver this weekend. Dan Pires also looks at the homecoming for Graham and his breakout day on offense last week. He also has a few other Patriots notes. Ian M Clark also looks at a Mile High return for Graham. Get the stories on the game from out West in the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. Both papers have plenty on BC product Bill Romanowski, who admitted yesterday that he used steroids while with the Broncos.

Solomon’s notebook has more on Freeman as the newest Patriot settles in. Curran’s notebook has more on Freeman who it out to prove that he still belongs in this league, and isn’t finished at the age of 28. He’ll play a little of both corner and safety with the Patriots. Kennedy’s notebook looks at the plethora of ex-Browns on the line for the Broncos. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots finally reaching the end of this grueling five game stretch. McHugh’s notebook has the Patriots looking to string together two wins in a row for the first time this season.

Jim Lazar and Jim McCabe make their NFL picks. Double D and I.M Bettor also offer up their selections for the week.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Steve Conroy each report on the Bruins 5-2 win over the Panthers last night for their third straight victory. The Bruins also finally came to terms with defenseman Nick Boynton yesterday, agreeing on a one year contract. Chris Collins of NECN had the news first, early in the AM yesterday. Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins reluctance to pay Boynton now, could have an impact in the future, when the blueliner becomes and unrestricted free agent. Joe McDonald, Mick Colageo and Conroy also each report on the signing. Nick Tavares has greeting the return of hockey with open arms. Burrell’s notebook says that Boynton was the first to blink in the standoff with the Bruins. Conroy’s notebook reports on Joe Thornton’s progress with his back injury.

Ricky Davis is the man in the spotlight today for the Celtics as we’ve got no less than four articles on the swingman. We’ll lead off of course with the BSMW Full Court Press, where Mark admits to taking his time in coming around on this whole Ricky Davis as a Celtic thing. Peter May notes that Davis is taking a leadership role with the Celtics, something his former coaches would be aghast at. Mark Murphy has a more complete piece on Davis, who is feeling at home with the Celtics…even buying a home in the area…and becoming in many ways the face of he franchise. Shalise Manza Young notes that Davis just continues to prove all the critics wrong when it comes to his game and personality. Davis is so popular he’s even inspired a blog dedicated just to him, in the Get Buckets Brigade.

The Celtics play their second preseason game tonight up in Manchester, NH. The game will mark a homecoming of sorts for former NH schoolboy star Matt Bonner, who will be in with the Toronto Raptors. Kevin Gray has a report on Bonner. Scott Souza says that the first preseason game was something of a reality check for the young Celtics. Steve Bulpett reports that Al Jefferson will not resume practice until next week at the earliest. Young’s notebook looks at the Celtics getting some work in even on the day off on Wednesday. In mentioning that the rookies sung “Happy Birthday” to Paul Pierce yesterday, Young seems a little confused in naming who the rookies were last year. Perkins and Banks were already second year players last year. Bulpett’s notebook gets it right and reports on Gerald Green lighting things up in practice.

Tony Massarotti reports that the Sox are working on getting Mike Timlin re-signed, and says there is no progress in talks with Theo Epstein. Gordon Edes also says there is a “major money gap” between the Red Sox and their young GM.

Bob Ryan looks at heroes and villains from ” The Great Third Strike Controversy of 2005″. Nick Cafardo reports on the Astros evening the series with the Cardinals at a game apiece. Jeff Horrigan notes how the White Sox always seem to capitalize on mistakes by the other team. Horrigan also looks back at the complete game for Mark Buehrle. The Cardinals might be without Reggie Sanders, who has had several big hits for them in the playoffs thus far. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the injury to the outfielder. Ryan’s notebook looks at a couple of Angels who haven’t been pulling their weight on offense. Horrigan’s notebook reports that White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has run into the “dropped strike” play before.

The big game on the college football scene this weekend is USC/Notre Dame. Mark Blaudschun notes that the swagger is back around the Golden Dome. Ken Davis calls this a Golden opportunity for Charlie Weis and the Fighting Irish. John Tucker wonders if this could be an upset for the ages in the making this weekend. Michael Vega looks at a change for BC in the kicking game. Rich Thompson looks at Jake Ottolini, who will be stepping in for Mathias Kiwanuka this weekend for BC against Wake Forest. Vega’s notebook has Kiwanuka definitely out for tomorrow. Blaudschun’s notebook has more on the epic drama in South Bend tomorrow.

Check out the New York Sports News and Bay Area Sports for more perspective on the national sports scene.

David Scott has his Friday edition of Scott’s Shots, looking at a variety of topics, while Bill Griffith looks at the many local subplots in this weekend’s USC/Notre Game matchup.

FSN has Celtics/Raptors at 7:00. FOX has White Sox/Angels at 8:30.