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Patriots notebook

Time for Maroney? He has to hang on

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / January 2, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH - A couple of yards is the difference between Laurence Maroney getting more carries and watching from the sideline.

Two fumbles in the red zone this season have stained an otherwise impressive season. In his fourth year, Maroney has career highs of nine touchdowns and 194 carries, and 757 rushing yards, the second most of his career. He provided the running game with a consistent effort when Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris were recovering from injuries.

But on his way into the end zone against the Colts (Nov. 15) and the Jaguars (last Sunday), Maroney fumbled. Against Indianapolis, he was on the 2-yard line when he lost his first fumble of the season. The next week, Maroney fumbled at the Jets’ 36-yard line. The next week, he fumbled in his own territory against the Saints. And last Sunday, he was near the goal line when he lost a career-high fourth fumble.

Maroney didn’t attempt to sugar-coat the fumble against Jacksonville. He simply called it “careless.’’

“It was a bad fumble,’’ he said. “I can’t point the finger at nobody but myself. I got careless on the goal line. Everything deserves a consequence and my punishment was sitting on the sideline the whole game.’’

As the Patriots prepare for the final game of the regular season, Maroney will wait and see if he gets another shot.

“It definitely would be great to go out there,’’ he said. “I feel like I’ve been running hard and I’ve been playing great, just going out there and getting a second shot would definitely be great. No matter what happens, I’m rooting my team on for victory, and I’m going to be out there if they play me, going hard.’’

Maroney was asked if he is curious about how the lineup will shape up tomorrow.

“I can’t really be worried about who’s out there and who’s not,’’ he said. “If it’s called for me to be out there, I got to make the best out of it when I am out there.’’

While Maroney watched the Patriots claim a 35-7 win over Jacksonville, Taylor took time to encourage Maroney. Maroney left last Sunday’s game after five carries for 22 yards on the Patriots’ opening drive.

Maroney said Taylor reminded him to stay positive. “It was good to have him on the sideline there with me,’’ Maroney said.

Probable causes
Tom Brady was listed as probable after returning to full participation at practice yesterday. The Patriots had a full house for the second consecutive day as the team completed practice week inside the Dana-Farber Field House.

The only players questionable were defensive end Ty Warren (ankle) and nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork injured his foot against Carolina and has been inactive the last two games. The probable list also included Leigh Bodden (knee), Julian Edelman (forearm), Jarvis Green (knee), Nick Kaczur (shoulder), Shawn Springs (knee), Benjamin Watson (knee), and Maroney (knee).

Randy Moss and Wes Welker had limited participation yesterday for non-injury-related reasons but both are probable.

Butler prepared
Cornerback Darius Butler was a healthy scratch last Sunday, the first time he has been inactive since Week 3, but the rookie said the uncertainty from week to week is part of the process.

“You have to go out and practice and prepare like you’re going to play every snap and when your number is called, be ready to make the best of your opportunity,’’ he said.

Butler has started four games and has 29 tackles and two interceptions. He summed up his first season as a learning process.

“It’s all been an experience,’’ he said. “There’s been ups and downs. I started some games, I didn’t play some games. It’s been a lot for my first year. It’s been a long season and we have another regular-season game and it’s on to the playoffs.’’

Cool on ice
The NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park yesterday caught the attention of coach Bill Belichick.

“It’s pretty cool watching Bobby Orr skate out on the ice there at Fenway,’’ Belichick said. “Watching Bobby on skates and Bobby Clarke. It makes you realize what a special sports town this is.’’

Orr and Clarke were honorary captains.

“I saw a lot of Orr,’’ Belichick said. “I went to school at Andover and then at Wesleyan. It was kind of half-New York, half-Boston, so it was a good rivalry there between the Knicks and the Celtics, and the Rangers and Bruins. [Orr] was tremendous, he is tremendous. It was great to see him on skates there.’’

Adams waived
The Patriots waived defensive lineman Titus Adams Thursday to make room for offensive lineman Ryan Wendell on the 53-man roster. If Adams clears waivers, he could be re-signed to the practice squad, Belichick said. As for Wendell, Belichick said, “Ryan’s done a good job for us and we just felt like it would be good to get him up on the roster.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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