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Maroney to IR; OL Neal activated

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots activated veteran offensive lineman Stephen Neal to the active roster from the reserve/physically unable to perform list today. The Patriots also signed cornerback Mike Richardson to the active roster from the practice squad. Additionally, the Patriots placed running back Laurence Maroney on the reserve/injured list with a shoulder injury and released offensive lineman Dan Connolly.

Neal, 32, has played in 55 career games with 52 starts for the Patriots since entering the NFL in 2001. The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound offensive lineman was originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent out of Cal State-Bakersfield on July 23, 2001. He began the 2001 season on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad before being signed to the Patriots' active roster on Dec. 12, 2001. He made his NFL debut on Oct. 6, 2002 and played in two games with one start that season before being placed on the reserve/injured list. After missing the entire 2003 season due to injury, Neal played in all 16 contests in 2004, starting the final 14 games at right guard. He started every game at right guard in 2005 and started 13 games at right guard in 2006. Last season, Neal played in eight games, starting each one at right guard.

Richardson, 24, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (202nd overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound cornerback has not played in an NFL game. He was placed on the reserve/injured list on Aug. 28, 2007 missed his entire rookie season due to injury. He was released by the Patriots on Aug. 30, 2008 and was signed to the practice squad the following day. He has spent the first seven weeks of the 2008 regular season as a member of New England's practice squad.

Maroney, 23, has played in 30 games with nine starts for the Patriots since being selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Minnesota. The 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound running back has recorded 388 career rushes for 1,673 yards (4.3 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He has also caught 26 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown and has recorded 28 kickoff returns for 783 yards (28.0 avg). As a rookie in 2006, Maroney totaled 745 rushing yards on 175 carries (4.3 avg.) and six touchdowns, adding 28 kickoff returns for 783 yards (28.0 avg.). Last season, he had 835 yards on 185 rushes (4.5 avg.) and six touchdowns. This season, Maroney played in three games and totaled 93 yards on 28 rushes (3.3 avg.).

Connolly, 26, has played in four career games, all with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005. The 6-foot-4-inch, 313-pound offensive lineman was originally signed by the Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Southeast Missouri State prior to the 2005 season. After playing in four games as a rookie in 2005, he was placed on the reserve/injured list and missed the entire 2006 season due to injury. He was released by the Jaguars on Sept. 1, 2007 and was signed to the Patriots' practice squad on Sept. 12, 2007, and spent the remainder of the season on New England's practice squad. In 2008, Connolly has been listed as a day-of-game inactive for each of the Patriots' five games.

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