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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Cast of plenty on injured list

Belichick plays waiting game with Vrabel & Co.

FOXBOROUGH -- The injury list was longer than the cast on Mike Vrabel's right arm.

There were 10 players listed. Nine of them are starters, and the other is Je'Rod Cherry, whose presence has been missed on special teams.

As the Patriots gear up for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, middle linebacker Ted Johnson is out indefinitely with a broken left foot and nose tackle Ted Washington is out indefinitely with a fractured left leg.

Vrabel, despite a broken arm, is listed as "doubtful" -- there is some small hope he would be fitted with a padded cast that would allow him to play. Listed as questionable are Cherry (leg), right tackle Adrian Klemm (ankle), cornerback Ty Law (ankle), fullback Fred McCrary (knee), wide receiver David Patten (knee), and center Damien Woody (knee). Listed as probable is Tom Brady (arm).

Of those players, only Brady practiced yesterday.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick believes some players will be game-time decisions. Others will be sorted before Sunday, and it should be a light practice week considering all the players who can't practice.

Brady, Patten, and Woody all plan to play. Klemm, Law, and McCrary appear to be more in the game-time category.

Vrabel said he was injured on kickoff coverage vs. the Jets and thought there was limited contact with the undisclosed player. "It's like he got me with his elbow in the right place on my arm, I guess in a spot that was a little vulnerable," he said. "It was just hit wrong."

Belichick likes to use some of his starters on special teams. Vrabel said he's always played special teams and takes it very seriously.

"It's a very important part of the game," he said. "I've been playing on special teams since I was in Pittsburgh."

Vrabel said it was silly to speculate on Wednesday whether he'd be able to play Sunday. He is being educated on exactly what type of cast can be used during the game. He knows the team has to specify to the league ahead of time that he will be wearing a cast, but the cast has to be padded so it won't be used as a weapon.

Law has the tough task of having to play Laveranues Coles, one of the top receivers in the game. He feels at "60-70" percent that he's still able to do his job effectively.

"You have to do what's best for the team and reach some middle ground," said Law.

When asked whether he needs to take care of himself, he said "I never took that approach when it came to contracts. I get paid to play football. As far as going back into the game last week, that was all on me. I wanted to do that."

Law, who realizes he could be a free agent after this year if he doesn't lower his salary, said that does not enter into his thinking on whether he should sit out and preserve his body.

"Not at all," insisted Law. "That's the farthest thing from my mind. It's a possibility my situation will have to be dealt with at some time, but now it's all about playing football. I play football for this team right now."

Still a sore point?

Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington accused the Patriots' line of "shooting low" or chop blocking in their exhibition game Aug. 16 at FedEx Field after defensive tackle Brandon Noble suffered a season-ending knee injury.

"It was preseason, and they were shooting low," Arrington said. "Obviously that was the game that Brandon got hurt. Nobody likes to see people play, quote-unquote, dirty in a preseason game. There wasn't a whole lot at stake so there was no reason to go out there and try to take a guy's legs out."

Asked if that were on his mind this week, Arrington said, "We just lost. We need to win. That's what's in my mind. I could care less about how they block. I think our guys are just ready to get back on the winning track."

Patriots newcomer Wilbert Brown, a center/guard who played for the Redskins as late as last week, said the topic was talked about but he added, "That's stupid. Everybody chops. Everybody goes for cuts. The whole league does that. That's not being dirty. If the ball is going away from your backside, you're going to cut the guy. You don't want to get cut, you don't want to play football, because that's going to happen. If you don't want to get cut, go get another job."

Brown, who could offer the Patriots some insights on the Redskins' offense, said, "If they ask me stuff, I'll tell them." Brown was very forthcoming about the Redskins' weaknesses, saying, "They want to throw the football. You've got to put pressure on the quarterback. There are a lot of weak points in the protection scheme. You get to the quarterback you can disrupt everything. He'll [QB Patrick Ramsey] run it if people start telling him to, but he goes to the ballpark wanting to throw the ball."

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