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Late preseason is a busy time

Fittingly, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick's Monday afternoon press conference was a swift one, sandwiched between the coach's busy schedule and afternoon practice. Between tomorrow's 4:00 p.m. 65-man roster cut deadline, Wednesday's final exhibition game at Gillette Stadium against the Chicago Bears, Sunday's final roster cuts and preparations for the Sept. 7 season opener in Buffalo, Belichick and the entire Patriots organization are working overtime.

Life as an NFL coach is generally filled with long hours and crowded scheduling, but no time may be any busier than the present.

"There is a lot going on, " Belichick said. "We're finishing up with the Philadelphia game. We're trying to get ready for the Bears, we're thinking about roster cuts and we're trying to get ready to work on Buffalo. We've got a lot of balls in the air in a short week. But that's training camp, it's like this every year."

A lot of that action for both the coaches, and the players who will have decisions about their immediate futures made for them, revolves around the two approaching roster cuts. While the wave of moves began yesterday with the release of J.R. Redmond, Antwoine Womack, Ken Kocher and Buck Rasmussen, there is still a significant amount of work to be done before the 53-man, opening day roster becomes finalized.

"We've got a lot of calls coming in from other teams," Belichick said "'Do you have interest in this guy or interest in that guy? What are you going to do with this guy or that guy?' There is a lot of type of thing going around the league right now as well. There is a lot of personnel talk and from a football standpoint trying to again put the Eagle game to bed, which we have them again the second game of the year and play Chicago and get ready for Buffalo.

"Other than that we are just kind of hanging out."

Even the players who are pretty secure in roster spots and starting jobs don't underestimate how stressful a time it can be for young and bubble players at this time of year.

"This is guys' livelihood right here," Damien Woody said. "Guys have been working hard all throughout the year and the offseason preparing for this moment and unfortunately some guys are not going to make it. It's kind of an uneasy time, but you have one more chance coming up Wednesday for guys to really show the coaches what they can do. We'll see what happens from there."

Rodney Harrison, a guy who came into the league with the Chargers as a fifth-round pick in 1994 out of Western Illinois had optimistic advice for any teammates who might become roster casualties in the coming week.

"This is not the end of the line," Harrison said. "It may be the end for the Patriots, but that doesn't mean they can't go anywhere else and play. So just keep working hard and working toward a career."

Meet, swap

With the release of first-year defensive lineman Ken Kocher on Sunday, there were a couple of number changes in the New England locker room Monday morning. Rookie first-round pick Ty Warren is now wearing the number 94 formerly owned by Kocher, while Ted Washington has claimed Warren's former 92 jersey. Warren wore number 94 in college at Texas A&M and 92 is the number of choice for the veteran Washington.

Warren downplayed the number switch, saying that regardless of the number he wears he is just preparing to put the jersey into action on the playing field.

"I just like to play," Warren said. "You can give me any number you want to give me. It's doesn't matter to me."

When Warren was originally drafted in April, and Kocher held number 94, the rookie took a pliable approach with his new team and took the available number 92.

"I could have been ignorant or stupid about it saying, 'I want my number from college,'" Warren said. "But that doesn't matter to me. Just give me a number and let me play. Ted is a guy who has been in the league for 13 years. I respect him. It was no problem for me to just give him the number and take another number."

In the end the deal seems to have worked out for all parties, superstitious or not.

"That's the way things go when you handle it the right way," Warren said of the numbers game.

Still running

Belichick said Monday that no real decision has been made in terms of the running back situation and that both Kevin Faulk and Antowain Smith will see action on Wednesday night against the Bears. The pair of backs has split the duties with the first offense through three preseason games, with Smith carrying the ball 28 times for 75 yards and one touchdown and Faulk seeing 18 carries for 67 yards.

"I am sure they will both play," Belichick said. "Again as I have said all through camp, I think they are both going to be productive players for us. I think they will both help us offensively. How exactly that get's broken up, we'll have to wait and see. But I think you will be seeing both of them this year and I think you will be seeing both of them Wednesday night."

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