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Morris goes camping early

This time of year, most professional football players are only out in the blazing sun if they're lying on a beach. The thought of sweating it out on a football field, in full pads, is the farthest thing in their minds.

Then there's Sammy Morris.

The native Texan will take part in his 11th NFL training camp three weeks from today when the Patriots open their summer practice schedule. But before then, the running back is hosting his own camp, for youth players, from July 15-17 here in Foxborough.

Morris, along with his good friend and former Texas Tech teammate Devin Lemons, recently concluded a similar three-day camp in Lubbock, Texas, near where Lemons, a former NFL linebacker, is now coaching high school football. Springboarding off that success, they're looking forward to offering their skills clinic to the youth of New England.

It's especially pleasing for Morris, who never attended a camp as a youth player in San Antonio.

"It's a passion of ours. It's big in Lubbock for us, and this [New England] area is special to me," said Morris.

"I always wish I had been able to attend a camp. There was never an NFL team or player in the area when I was growing up. Looking back, I wish there was something else I could have done to improve my skills early on. There's always room to improve and people you can learn from. I wanted to do that in areas that are special to me."

Coaching and/or teaching may be in Morris' post-NFL future, he added, though he maintains that he's focused on his camp and the upcoming Patriots season for the time being.

"I've always had a desire to coach high school and potentially college football. I don't know if I'll be a coach or kind of help put on clinics or camps. But it's definitely on the radar for my post-career goals."

He's not thinking about retiring just yet, Morris stressed. In fact, he's keeping up with his conditioning regimen to stay in shape for training camp later this month, even while he plans for youth camp. Morris explained that he works out either in the morning or late at night, depending on when time allows during this non-structured window on the NFL calendar.

"It's my job and it's something I still take very seriously," he said.

And how long does he expect to continue playing in the NFL?

"As long as they'll still have me," Morris chuckled. "When I first got in the league, I said, 'If I play 10 years, that'll be the best possible scenario.' Now that I've passed that, each year is its own entity. As long as I still feel good and a team will have me, I'm playing as long as I can. I feel as good about this [training camp] as any other one."

In the meantime, Morris will take the lessons he's learned over a decade in the pros and impart them on any young players who attend his camp. Morris is also trying to recruit some of his current Patriots teammates, who are in the area preparing for training camp, to volunteer as staffers at his youth camp.

For more information about Morris' youth camp, visit his website, www.morrislemons.net .

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