Yesterday was a day for the Patriots.

John Tomase reports on Rodney Harrison making a surprise return to the practice field for the Patriots, well ahead of any schedule that the media or public could’ve imagined. Albert Breer has more on Harrison, who like always, feels he has to prove something to the doubters. Jerome Solomon has Harrison enjoying the experience of being back on the field, doing what he loves. Paul Kenyon looks at Harrison lifting the spirits of many by his presence on the field.

Alan Greenberg says there was no Field of Dreams cornfield for the five returning Patriots to walk through for their return, but yesterday was a special day for the team. Rich Garvin looks at a few of the big dogs, including Harrison and Koppen, getting back to work yesterday. Dan Pires looks at New England finally getting some uplifting news yesterday with the returns of Harrison, Koppen and others.

Rich Thompson looks at another Patriot making a surprise return, center Dan Koppen. Thompson also reports on Randall Gay, who returned to practice as well. Breer checks in with Daniel Graham, another Patriot seeing the practice field for the first time this summer. Willie McGinest has been in the news for his comments in the San Diego Union Tribune recently, but Tom Withers of the Associated Press has another look at the former Patriot, who feels he still has plenty left in the tank to help out the Cleveland Browns. Sasha Talcott reports on the Patriots plans to offer their line of meats, including hot dogs, bratwurst, and sausages, all with the Patriots logo on the package. It doesn’t stop there either, there are plans for other items as well. They will be targeted to tailgaters and fans.

Tomase’s notebook looks at Johnathan Sullivan, who also took part in his first practice yesterday after passing his conditioning test and being cleared to go. The Globe notebook has more on the returns of Koppen and Graham, as well as a number of other noteworthy items. Kenyon’s notebook observes that yesterday seemed like a fresh start in many ways for the Patriots. Garvin’s notebook looks at the coaching staff beginning preparations to face the Falcons on Friday night.

Red Sox

Tony Massarotti says that someone on the Red Sox needs to step up and give Manny and Ortiz some help. He says the Red Sox are top heavy, like the Red Sox of old. Gordon Edes notes that things are just as bad on the pitching side of things, and says that the team has missed Tim Wakefield far more than many people realize. Michael Silverman says that now is the time to see what this team is made of. Steven Krasner says that this is a critical time for the Red Sox, as their postseason hopes could get away from them if they don’t turn things around quickly. David Heuschkel notes that the midseason acquisitions made by Theo Epstein this season haven’t exactly inspired confidence.

Garry Brown observes that the Kansas City Royals couldn’t have appeared on the Red Sox schedule at a better time. Bill Ballou says it might be time for the Red Sox fortunes to change. David Borges says Mark Loretta is very happy playing for the Red Sox and would like to remain here, but it might not be his call to make. Tim Bresnahan has an article on Sea Dogs outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who appears on the fast track to Fenway Park. Alex Speier has a piece on Wily Mo Pena, who is still learning the game.

Edes’ notebook reports that Tampa is indeed choosing to try and foul things up, and they’ve put in a claim for Adam Stern, thus blocking him (for now) from going to the Orioles in the Javy Lopez trade. Silverman’s notebook has some advice for those of you participating in a David Ortiz home run pool.

Bob Ryan issues a “Emptying Out The Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind.” Not one of the best I’ve seen of this genre, while there were some good points and observations in there, (totally agree on poker on TV) at least two got under my skin. First, I don’t think anyone from the Globe, even Bob, should ever talk about the Patriots “organizational arrogance”. Second, the very last one: “Big Papi is a Foxhole Guy. Manny isn’t.” What the hell does that mean? Ridiculous.

Chad Finn has some leftover baseball thoughts of his own to share.

Misc

Hockey season is right around the corner, and Joe McDonald says that Bruins fans finally have some reason for optimism for the future. Douglas Flynn looks at the Bruins continuing the stockpile depth with a trio of signings yesterday.

Steve Conroy has a thorough look at Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, whom many feel has a chance to be something special for the Eagles.

NESN has Red Sox/Royals at 8:00.

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