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Patriots RB/KR Laurence Maroney named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - New England Patriots rookie running back and kick returner Laurence Maroney has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week by the NFL for games played in Week Seven (Oct. 22-23). The honor marks the second award of the season for Maroney, who was named Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week following a 125-yard rushing performance at Cincinnati on Oct. 1.

Maroney was selected by the Patriots with the 21st overall selection in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He ranks third in the NFL with a 27.9-yard kickoff return average this season, a mark that leads all NFL rookies. His 74-yard kickoff return in the first quarter of the Patriots' 28-6 win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday was the longest kickoff return of the week in the NFL and was the third longest in the NFL this season. Maroney's runback was also the longest non-touchdown return in the NFL this year.

The former University of Minnesota star produced his big return at a key point in New England's victory over the Bills. After the Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening drive, Buffalo answered back with a field goal. But Maroney's 74-yard return of the ensuing kickoff set up a four-play drive that ended in a 12-yard touchdown run by Corey Dillon that put the momentum squarely back in the Patriots' favor as they claimed a 14-3 lead.

In addition to his special teams accomplishments, Maroney leads all NFL rookies with 361 rushing yards and is tied for the NFL rookie lead with three rushing touchdowns. He has recorded his 361 rushing yards on 86 total carries, good for an average of 4.2 yards per carry.

Maroney's 74-yard kickoff return against the Bills was the longest kickoff return for the Patriots since Dec. 4, 2004, and was the latest achievement in a resurgent Patriots return game that three weeks ago in Cincinnati produced the team's longest punt return since 2001 (a 43-yard return by Kevin Faulk on Oct. 1).

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