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Official website of the New England Patriots News Blitz - 11/22/2006

In today's News Blitz... Mike Vrabel and Troy Brown are two of the most versatile players in the NFL.

The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss writes on Mike Vrabel. Fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin calls Vrabel a Swiss Army knife on the football field. "Versatile, can do a lot of different things, a good tool," Colvin said. Few would deny that the 31-year-old Vrabel has a sharp edge to him. He's also durable. Vrabel plays a number of roles for the Patriots, including linebacker and, at times, tight end.

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports that rookie running back Laurence Maroney only caught 21 passes in his whole college career. Because of that fact, some scouts thought Maroney might never be more than an early-down back. Already this season, Maroney has caught two-thirds of his college total, 14, confirming something he knew all along. "Deep down inside, I knew I could catch the ball. Just getting the ball out to me was the deal. Working with [Tom] Brady, my catching has been a lot better. They're using me more in the passing game, making me more versatile, which is helping me and the team," said Maroney.

Dan Pires of The Standard-Times reports on running back Laurence Maroney, who is developing into a fine double threat. "They wanted to know how my hands were — you know, I had to let them know I could catch now," Maroney said with his trademark grin on Tuesday.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that Packers cornerback Al Harris was unimpressed with the Patriots wideouts. He credited their success to good coaching an schemes over talent. "There are things they were doing, not to take anything away from their receivers, I think they've got good receivers, but if they just line up against us, they're not really going to hurt us," Harris said. "He can talk all he wants," Caldwell said yesterday. "They lost. I'd rather have a win and say nothing than a loss and talk. What's he talking for? He lost the football game." Caldwell finished with three catches for 70 yards, one week after catching nine passes for 90 yards against the Jets. With 35 receptions, he has already shattered his career high of 28 set with San Diego, and at his current pace will top 60.

Scott Van Voorhis of the Boston Herald reports that the FieldTurf is down in Gillette Stadium. The complete installation will take just over a week. That beats FieldTurf's previous record of 18 days for a high school field - and the five to six weeks usually needed to install an NFL field.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase offers a feature on Troy Brown, who played a major role on defense against Green Bay in addition to carrying his usual receiver duties. "Troy is a player for the ages," said former Patriots receiver/kicker/defensive back Gino Cappelletti. "He could have played in any era. The fact that he's able to play in today's game at the level he has is amazing. He's a throwback. He could have been a very, very valuable player in my game and he's still a valuable player in today's game."

The Patriots have been dominant against the NFC in recent years, and Michael Felger of the Boston Herald wonders how that trend will fare against the 9-1 Bears this week. Felger is sure to mention that the Pats have beaten both good and bad NFC teams, but wonders how much of a superiority complex has developed in them after all the wins.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald speculates at the health of punter Josh Miller, noting that former Patriots punter Ken Walter is back in the Foxboro area. Danny Baugher has also been on the practice squad for a while now.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger offers his Patriots report card on last week's game, also previewing matchups in this week's game against Chicago. McHugh wonders why the Packers didn't blitz more considering that the Jets blitz package disrupted Tom Brady during the whole game.

Howard Ulman of* The Telegraph* offers thoughts on the Bears from a few Patriots players. "They're very aggressive," Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. "The middle of their (defensive) line is one of the best in the league, if not the best. And you know that they're very turnover-driven."

*The Press Herald's* staff explains that a large portion of the country will be unable to watch Thursday night's Broncos-Chiefs game, the first to air on the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football. The NFL Network is simply unavailable to many people, including the majority of Mainers, because many cable providers still don't offer it.

Also, don't forget to check out the Inside Slant, offered by USA Today and updated yesterday.

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