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Versatile Ojinnaka joins Patriots; Tue. notes

The newest New England Patriot meets the local media for the first time. Plus, news and notes from Tuesday's practice.

For the second week in a row, Quinn Ojinnakashared a practice field with the Patriots. Only this time, he has a Flying Elvis logo on his helmet.

The fifth-year offensive lineman from Syracuse was traded from Atlanta to New England just days after taking part in joint practices between the Falcons and Patriots in Flowery Branch, Georgia last week. He then faced the Patriots in last Thursday's second preseason contest of the summer. But Sunday night, he learned he was heading north.

"I was totally surprised," Ojinnaka told reporters Tuesday. "I was getting ready to go to sleep and get ready for practice in the morning with the Falcons when I heard the news. I was shocked at first, but when I realized where I was coming to, I was really excited after that.

"Yeah, it took me by surprise, but I'm glad to be here. With a rich tradition like the Patriots, I mean, who wouldn't be?"

The Patriots, in need of veteran depth along the o-line, are happy to have him. Head coach Bill Belichickextolled Ojinnaka (6-5, 295) for his versatility, in particular.

"He's played tackle. He's played guard. He's started a number of games in this league. He's played on both sides of the line and played both guard and tackle," Belichick said in his daily press briefing. "So, he's got some position flexibility and has some experience in the league. [We] felt like he could fit into our system."

"That's my thing I pride myself on," Ojinnaka added. "When I'm studying the playbook, I'm not looking at one position, but all five. If my name was ever called, at least I know what I'm doing. That should help the Patriots."

After just two days of workouts with his new team, Ojinnaka was asked if he's been informed what his role with the Patriots might be.

"It looks like I have a pretty good chance," he replied, "but at the same time, I'm just focusing on learning the offense and playing football.

"It's definitely different. It's much faster here. The offense is pretty much the same, just different terminology, so I'm trying to pick that up right now."

One other issue ... Ojinnaka will not be available for the season opener. He was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy, stemming from a domestic violence incident with his wife in May of 2009. Police subsequently charged him with simple battery.

Ojinnaka was asked about the suspension after Tuesday's practice. He initially offered an answer about looking forward, not back, and was focused on football. Another reporter followed up and Ojinnaka responded with the following concession.

"It's a chance to start over with a new team and a new home."

Maroney ready to run

Haven't seen much of running back Laurence Maroneythis preseason. The 2006 first-round pick had a couple of touchdowns in the opener against St. Louis, on short-yardage carries, and only appeared in one play last week in Atlanta. But he hasn't started yet and his touches have been limited.

Does he expect that to change this week in preseason game number three, when the starters typically play most of the game?

"Am I looking forward to starting? I don't know. That's one of those coaches' decisions," Maroney said. "I'm going to get prepared for the game, come Thursday, you know. As far as who's starting, we really won't know that till game time.

"Everybody would love to run with the ones," he added. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't. At the same time, the twos are just as good ... just getting a chance to go out there and play the game is good enough for me."

Is the fact that the Patriots are playing Maroney's hometown St. Louis Rams adding any extra impetus for him to contribute on Thursday evening?

"If this were an away game for us, maybe," he admitted. "But it's a home game, so ... it's going to be fun going against them. To me, it's just another team."

*Tuesday Practice Notes *

Heavy rains and strong winds once again forced the Patriots to move their practice indoors to the cozy confines of the Dana-Farber Field House. And for the second straight day, the team worked out in helmets, shorts, and shells (those smaller, lighter shoulder pads).

Virtually the same list of players who didn't take part Monday were not suited up for Tuesday's session – the lone exception being tackle Mark LeVoir, who returned after one day working with the training staff. Wide receiver Matthew Slaterwas also seen with the team's medical staff doing rehab-related activities on the sideline, along with fellow wideout Darnell Jenkins, linebackers Eric Alexanderand Jermaine Cunningham, and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. Wide receiver Julian Edelman, defensive back Bret Lockettand o-lineman Nick Kaczurwere not seen at all. Guard Logan Mankinsremains unsigned.

For a thorough, detailed rundown of observations from Tuesday's practice, visit the PFW Blog.

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