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Patriots notebook

Maroney elaborates on 'issues'

Running back says he was referring only to shoulder

Laurence Maroney is on a nine-month plan to strengthen his shoulder and return to training. Laurence Maroney is on a nine-month plan to strengthen his shoulder and return to training. (File/Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / November 11, 2008
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FOXBOROUGH - The last time Patriots running back Laurence Maroney spoke with reporters, on Oct. 3, he talked about working through "issues." Two days later, he had a reduced workload and limited production in a win over the 49ers, and two weeks after that, he was placed on season-ending injured reserve because of his shoulder.

What happened?

Maroney shed light on how it unfolded yesterday, prior to signing autographs for fans at the Reebok Store at Patriot Place, noting that his "issues" were all "football-related" and that his shoulder problems had been lingering for weeks.

"It started from the Jets game [Sept. 14] and it just added up," he said, not specifying which shoulder was injured.

Maroney presumably was hurt on a second-quarter rushing play in which he was tackled by Jets safety Eric Smith. After that play, Maroney remained on the sideline for more than two quarters before returning for one play late in the game. He was inactive the next week against the Dolphins.

In his return against the 49ers Oct. 5, Maroney ran indecisively and at one point didn't lower his right shoulder for a first down as he headed to the sideline. After missing the game at San Diego the following week, he was placed on injured reserve Oct. 20.

Maroney, who had shoulder surgery following his rookie season, didn't specify whether his injury required surgery, saying only that he's on a nine-month plan "to get stronger and better" heading into next July's training camp. He indicated that he's "just getting started, just getting back into the groove of things.

"I'm feeling better. My spirits are back high. I haven't ever lost confidence in myself. As long as the fans are still going to support me and the team is still going to believe in me and support me, I have no choice but to have high spirits."

Maroney, who clarified that his "issues" had nothing to do with Bill Belichick, was asked if he felt conflicted about not disclosing his injury because it can create a negative perception.

"That's the only bad thing about it," he said, "not being able to really explain what's going on, not being able to really let people know what's going on.

"That just lets people say what they want and assume what they want - that he's out and he's not really giving his all. They don't know what's going on behind the scenes."

Given a chance to provide those details, Maroney said he was following a team edict to keep them under wraps.

Maroney, 23, acknowledged that he had some hesitation showing up to yesterday's event.

"I might think too much, overanalyze things," he said. "If I was a fan and my first-rounder was hurt, how would I feel? Would I be here if I was them? Maybe. Maybe not.

"[But] looking out there and seeing them, and seeing people on the street and they're saying, 'We hope your injury gets better, we hope you come back healthy,' it boosts my spirits a bit. They still trust that I can come back and be a running back that they've been waiting for."

Moss's fine rescinded

The NFL announced it has rescinded the $20,000 fine it levied on wide receiver Randy Moss for comments he made about the officiating in the Patriots' 18-15 loss to the Colts Nov. 2. After the game, Moss had said, "I think a lot of guys are really down just for the fact that you let a game like this slip. Like I said earlier, when things happen, you've got to watch what you say. Guys don't want to get fined. There were some real iffy calls out there, and it's just some of the things that you wished wouldn't have happened. Good calls and bad calls are part of the game, so you've got to live and die with them."

An influential presence

One of the big differences in the Jets defense this season has been the play of nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who has clogged up the middle in their 3-4 defense the same way Vince Wilfork does for the Patriots. With the 6-foot-4-inch, 349-pound Jenkins, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Carolina Panthers, the Jets are fifth in the NFL in run defense (76.4 yards per game). "He's in the top two or three nose tackles in the league," said Patriots right guard Logan Mankins. "When he gets rolling, there are not too many that can stop him."

Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report

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