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Injured Maroney won't jeopardize health to rush return for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even though the New England Patriots are running short of running backs, Laurence Maroney says he won't jeopardize his health to return to the lineup.

Maroney has missed three straight games with a groin injury. Backup Sammy Morris filled in with a pair of 100-yard games before injuring his chest in last Sunday's win over the Cowboys.

Morris is expected to miss this week's game in Miami. Maroney said Morris' status won't affect his own.

"You've still got to know your body and know your injury," Maroney said. "Just because another person went down doesn't mean that you have to speed your (rehab) up and then hurt yourself more. Now the two of you are out for even longer instead of being patient.

"I'm still going to be patient and whatever (coach Bill) Belichick and the trainers have for me this week is what they have."

Maroney, who warmed up on the field before the Cowboys game but was not activated, said he worries about being labeled injury prone. As a first-round rookie last season he missed two games and then underwent offseason shoulder surgery.

"Coming off one injury as it is and then coming into another one, it definitely is frustrating," he said. "I just can't get rid of these things."

Maroney has rushed for 252 yards this season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

If Maroney can't play Sunday, third-down back Kevin Faulk is expected to see more playing time. Faulk was the Patriots' leading rusher against the Cowboys with 13 carries for 50 yards. He had only 10 rushing attempts in the first five games.

The Patriots also could turn to fullbacks Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel against a Dolphins run defense ranked 31st.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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