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Game won't run Myers down

Leonard Myers showed his toughness early on in life. He was the type of kid who would always get up and dust himself off, ignoring any pain caused by a fall.

As most kids do, Myers often tried to tag along with his older siblings. When he was 8 years old, he was chasing after his sister when a bicycle ran him down from behind.

"I was actually following my sister to the ice cream truck," Myers said with a sheepish smile. "I figured maybe she would get me something, and a bike came out of nowhere and just ran right over me. I just got up and walked into the house like nothing had happened."

Little did the Patriots sixth-round pick from the University of Miami know that he had suffered a broken hip. Sure, it hurt, but he wasn't about to let on his pain.

" My mom found out when I was walking kind of crazy the next day," Myers said. "That's the only way she found out because I wasn't going to tell her."

Myers spent 18 months in a brace for the hip, and the injury also resulted in a bout with bone disease. That didn't stop him from taking part in any of the normal childhood activities, and he eventually became a start athlete. Myers lettered in football, basketball, track and baseball at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

That athleticism took him to Miami, where he learned to play cornerback by going up against the likes of wide receivers Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne in practice for four years.

"Playing against those top-notch receivers will probably make things a little easier for me because they gave me different looks, and they played at a pro-like level," Myers said.

In four seasons with the Hurricanes, Myers was a very tough pass defender. He had 35 passes defensed and nine interceptions in 42 games. Myers likes to make plays with the ball in his hands, and he feels he can challenge for return duties in New England, something he didn't get to do in college because of Moss' presence at Miami.

"Some guys, when they hit or get hit, they get excited," Myers said. "When I see the ball kicked towards me, I get excited. That gives me an opportunity to help the team by making a play."

The 5-10, 190-pound Myers should have a chance to make plays for New England in 2001. After his first couple workouts during rookie camp he said he was comfortable with the amount of material the team wanted him to learn, and he was confident in his ability to keep up on the field.

What he has to do now is convince the coaching staff he belongs.

"I try to be tough, because this game is tough," Myers said. "If you are not tough, you can get run over."

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