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‘Right time’ for Maroney deal

Belichick lauds newest Bronco

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / September 16, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — In the end, Bill Belichick said, it was time for the Patriots to go in a different direction when it came to Laurence Maroney.

A direction that sent Maroney west to Denver.

A day after trading the lighthearted running back to the Broncos, where he is reunited with former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Belichick explained the move by saying it was good timing.

“I just felt like it was the right time for us to move on,’’ he said. “I have a lot of respect for Laurence. He came in, been here for four years, worked hard.

“I think he’s improved a lot and has helped us a lot as a player. I think he would have helped us this year, but we just felt like it was time to move on.

“We felt like we got a good value on the trade, so we made it in the best interest of the football team. I’m sure he’ll do well for Denver. I think they got a good player and a kid that will work hard for them.’’

On Tuesday, New England sent Maroney and its sixth-round pick in 2011 to the Broncos for Denver’s fourth-round pick next year, ending a once-promising marriage between the St. Louis native and the team that made him a first-round pick in 2006.

A league source noted that night that the 25-year-old Maroney never matured as the Patriots had hoped and didn’t always go the extra mile in his preparations.

Denver wanted a third experienced back to team with second-year player Knowshon Moreno and 10-year vet Corell Buckhalter after losing LenDale White for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

“I just think it made us more comfortable to have a third player at that position that we could count on so that if we have a guy that gets injured, we’re not down to one player that’s really played in the NFL,’’ McDaniels said yesterday. “I’m certainly familiar with the player. I know the kid, he’s a good kid, he can be productive in our offense.’’

As he did in New England, McDaniels uses multiple running backs. Maroney will be part of that rotation with Moreno and Buckhalter; during the Broncos’ loss in Jacksonville Sunday, Moreno had 15 carries, with Buckhalter getting six.

McDaniels did not say how Maroney will be used but believes he has something to offer Denver. He avoided commenting on whether Maroney had lived up to the expectations that come with being the 21st overall pick.

“He’s a guy that can do a lot of good things,’’ said McDaniels. “I think it depends on what the expectations are that you’re setting on somebody. If you’re playing in an offense that uses three and four and five backs, expectations of 1,500 yards rushing probably aren’t realistic.’’

In New England’s locker room, Maroney’s stall, where he held court every Friday last season for media chats that often became improv shows, was stripped bare.

“It was a shock,’’ said center Dan Koppen. “You never know what’s going to happen, but we’ve got a good group of backs, so it’s one of those things. You wish Laurence luck and you’ve just got to move on.’’

Koppen added that his former teammate loves playing football and “played it the right way,’’ but this week is about getting ready for the Jets.

Kevin Faulk spent more than a half-hour on the phone with Maroney after word of the trade came down.

“We’ve been together 4 1/2 years. Of course I talked to him,’’ Faulk said. “I wished him the best of luck. It was great playing with him. He has a new chapter in his life now and he’s got to move on.’’

According to Faulk, Maroney was a bit perplexed by being traded.

“Think about it,’’ said Faulk. “Put yourself in his shoes. You go to work and your boss tells you you’ve been traded or let go, it’s a little confusing, but at the same time, it’s life. You got to move on.

“He was a little confused but at the same time he knew he had a fresh start. He’s going somewhere he’s familiar with the offense, some of the coaches. So it’s a good situation for him.’’

Maroney leaves the Patriots with 675 carries for 2,799 yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry, and 25 touchdowns in 52 games.

He and Belichick met once a week last season to go over film, and more than once the two were seen sharing a smile in the locker room, Maroney with his arm slung over the coach’s shoulders and bearing a wide grin.

“In the end, we try to do what we think is best for our football team,’’ said Belichick. “I think he worked hard, tried hard, but in the end we’re going in a different direction here.’’

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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