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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Dillon: Strong-but-silent type

He no longer is talking to media

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots are finding it difficult to explain the problems with their running game. So difficult, in fact, that tailback Corey Dillon has elected not to try to explain it anymore.

Yesterday, Dillon said he doesn't plan to talk to the media the rest of the season.

''Oh, you won't hear from me the rest of the year," he said. ''I'm too old to talk."

Dillon, who turns 31 Oct. 24, is apparently responding to media speculation that his age is a factor in his slow start.

Dillon rushed for a career-high 1,635 yards last year, his first with New England. This season he has 223 yards on 73 carries, putting him on pace for just 892 yards.

The Patriots are last in the NFL in rushing yards with 265 (66.2 yards per game), and only Baltimore has a lower yards-per-carry average than New England's 2.8.

Colvin ready for more

The Patriots keep play numbers in-house, but linebacker Rosevelt Colvin has been relegated to mostly third-down situations.

In New England's base 3-4 defense, Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel start at outside linebacker, with Monty Beisel and Chad Brown on the inside. Brown exits when the team goes to a 4-3, which it has run about 30-35 percent of the time this season.

Colvin, who has 12 tackles, which ties him for 11th on the squad, has been in during most obvious passing situations, but not often in regular sets.

''That's the situation right now, I'm not the coach," he said. ''That's the coach's decision. I would love to be out there more, but that's not specifically what I'm asked to do right now.

''Just like anybody that's not out there every play, you want to be out there more. I want to be out there more. But obviously we have guys that are capable of being out there. My job is to continue to work hard and get better at areas that I need to improve and when I get my opportunity I can take full advantage of it."

Colvin, who missed the bulk of the 2003 season with a serious hip injury, says he is healthy and can play more if called upon.

''I feel great, personally," Colvin said. ''As far as [Sunday], I don't feel too good about that. But as far as my playing ability, and what I feel I can go out there and do, I feel like I can do whatever they ask me to do.

''As I said from Day 1, whatever opportunity I'm presented with, I'll try to go out and take full advantage of and hopefully I'll get more and more of whatever comes along."

A separate issue

The Patriots didn't give much credence to San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer's postgame suggestion that the injuries to players such as Rodney Harrison are catching up to the defending champions.

Coach Bill Belichick said his philosophy is to take each week separately and not consider the cumulative effect of players who are not with the team.

''You take what you have every week and look at the opponent that you have and what the situation that you're dealing with is and put together the most competitive team and plays and so forth that you can put together to face that," he said. ''That's what you do every week. That's the way I look at it.

''I don't know how Marty looks at it, but that's the way I look at it."

Colvin said he respects Schottenheimer's opinion as a longtime NFL coach, but said using injuries as excuses for losses isn't acceptable with the Patriots, because reserves are counted on to perform as well as the players they replace.

''If he wants to use that as the reason why he may not have won [in the past] or he may not win in the future . . . I don't think that's something we're looking for around here," Colvin said. ''If you're in there playing, then you need to play and you need to play at a high level, regardless if it's on special team, offense or defense.

''The expectations for you are great when you make the team and even greater when you get an opportunity to get on the field. When I'm presented with an opportunity, I want to do the best that I can. I think every guy needs to take that attitude."

Leaving it behind

Defensive end Ty Warren said by the time the film study and analysis of Sunday's loss was done, he would put the defeat out of his head. ''If it was the last game of the season it would be hard to leave behind," he said, ''but we have 12 more games to play, and however many [playoff] games that we choose to play beyond that." . . . The Patriots Charitable Foundation and Gillette will host the second annual Men's Health Day Oct. 11 at Gillette Stadium. Leading health organizations will be at the stadium to offer free screenings for prostate cancer, blood pressure analysis, and health and nutrition advice . . . Next Sunday's NFL lineup for Boston has Patriots-Falcons (Channel 4, 1 p.m.) with the No. 1 crew of Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, and Bonnie Bernstein. Fox has Buccaneers-Jets at 1 p.m. with Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa and Eagles-Cowboys at 4:15 with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver.

Bill Griffith of the Globe Staff contributed to this report; Jerome Solomon can be reached at jsolomon@globe.com.

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