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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/7/2006

The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss reports on running back Laurence Maroney, who was injured in last week's game against the Lions and has been listed as Questionable with a sore back for the upcoming game. Reiss noticed a change in Maroney's aggression during drills at practice yesterday, though when asked how he feels yesterday, Maroney said, "I'm straight." Reiss speaks with other running backs about the possibility of handing an increased workload should the youngster need to sit out this week.

Calvin Hennick of The Boston Globe reports on the new Patriot Place project, which will add stores, restaurants, a movie theater, and a hotel to the land surrounding Gillette Stadium. Residents of the nearby town of Norfolk are concerned about how the development will affect traffic in nearby areas, but Patriots developers and planners are working in conjunction with Norfolk town representatives to alleviate concerns.

The Boston Herald's Patriots Notebook offers a story on Maroney, who was believed to have suffered a concussion against the Lions. "He practiced with pain and played with pain," Maroney's former college coach, Mitch Browning said. "It was never an issue. He's one tough kid." Also included are notes on two other players.

The Boston Globe's Patriots Notebook offers Tom Brady's thoughts on the current position of the team. "I think the important thing is that we are in a very good position at this point -- we're 9-3 with the last quarter of the season left and hopefully we're prepared to play our best football," Brady said yesterday. Also included are short pieces on Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who will not be playing the Pats this weekend; tight end Daniel Graham, who's been appointed as one of the Pats team captains and newly acquired defensive back Ray Mickens.

The Providence Journal's Patriots Notebook offers a story on the Pats recent acquisitions, including defensive back Ray Mickens. Also included are pieces on Mike Vrabel, Daniel Graham and this week's injury report.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette's Rich Garven wonders if running back Corey Dillon has the stamina to carry the team, should Maroney's injury keep him out of the game. Also included are thoughts on the Patriots injury report, Daniel Graham and the Patriots turnover ratio.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase reports that tight end Benjamin Watson is in the midst of easily his best season. He has already set career highs in receptions (48), yards (638), yards per game (53.2), and first downs (32). With one more touchdown, he will tie last season's total of four. "He's got size and speed. Those are two of the factors that make tight ends such great mismatch players," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said of Watson. "When they can run, linebackers have a difficult time covering them. Then you put defensive backs on them and they're not big enough. It's always an issue covering a player like that." But Watson has had his troubles on the field as well. Tomase provides close inspection.

Providence Journal writer Joe McDonald reports that receiver Doug Gabriel has seen diminished playing time since fumbling the football in the second quarter of the Jets game on Nov. 12. He led the team in receptions against Denver and Cincinnati.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports on tight end Daniel Graham, who was recently appointed as one of the Pats team captains. "It's an honor," Graham, a five-year veteran, said Wednesday. "It did catch me by surprise." Graham is well respected in the Patriots locker room and is also extremely family oriented.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports on the decline of the Patriots running game. She explains that earlier in the season, the combination of Corey Dillon and Maroney was known as the two-headed monster among media types. Now, the Pats have dropped from the third best running team to the 12th best, which is the worst ranking the club has had all season.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger offers his report card on the Pats-Lions game, also previewing the upcoming Dolphins game.

Glen Farley of The Enterprise offers a story on defensive lineman Ty Warren. Warren is having a great year and is a true student of the game.

Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call reports on Daniel Graham, as well. "Dan shows leadership and toughness -- both mental and physical -- on and off the field and is dependable," Belichick said. "He has respect that from everybody in this organization -- all his peers, coaches and everybody connected with the team." Belichick made the final decision Friday and announced it to the team at practice.

Don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, which was updated today.

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