The Ted Johnson story

Middle linebacker Ted Johnson, a loyal performer with the team, is now the victim of head games. And he doesn't care for it. Johnson was practicing Friday for the first time since he left the team Tuesday. What triggered Johnson's departure?

Bill Belichick denied that it had anything to do with him telling Johnson he had not made the 45-man roster for Monday night's game against Pittsburgh. The report came from long-time agent Jack Mills, who said Friday that he takes nothing back.

"That's what we were led to believe. That's what we were told," said Mills, about Johnson being told he had been excluded from the 45-man roster. Mills added, "I'm not going to get into a whole discussion, point-counterpoint, but I know we've had a few problems over there with some things in the past."

Mills said that he, along with other friends close to Johnson, talked him into going back to work yesterday.

"It was a combination of people. Under the rules of the NFL and five-day rule that's in place, Ted had to go back. He had no choice if he wanted to be paid," said Mills.

The Patriots had sent Johnson the "five-day letter" which he received on Wednesday. Johnson would have been placed on the reserve-retired list had he not returned.

Belichick refused to answer when asked why Johnson did leave if it he wasn't told he wasn't on the 45-man game roster.

Johnson later said the he wasn't told directly about the 45-man roster, but "I can read between the lines."

"For me it was about self preservation," said Johnson, who often paused to chose his words. "You know, I really had no other options (why he left). I did what I did to protect my self interests."

What those were were hard to determine.

It appears though Johnson might have been the victim of the same Belichickspeak as Bledsoe was last season when he was told he would be competing for his job and then told Tom Brady was the quarterback.

"I'm old fashioned," said Johnson. "When a man gives you a word on something, you believe it. I guess I was suffering from idealism. Some things were said that weren't really followed through. I'm here to obligate my contract."

What was promised isn't known.

"There's a lot of events that culminated in this. This was by no means a knee jerk reaction. This is not something I enjoy doing. The last thing I want to do is take time and energy and focus away from the what we need to do Monday Night. Today isn't an easy day. But hopefully I know tomorrow will be easier," he said.

Asked if he regretted the past few days, he said, "Anybody with any self-respect and dignity would do the same thing, It's that simple. I have no regrets. I love the guys I play with. I love this town. I had no hidden agenda. There was nothing malicious. The only option I had was to play for this team and that's what I'm going to do."

That's because Johnson asked for his release and the Patriots declined. That's because after the team sent out the five-day letter on Tuesday, he needed to come back or forfeit his contract.

"Bill and I have talked. We've said what we needed to say," said Johnson.

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