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Camp is over, work isn't; Double sessions conclude; Bengals visit tomorrow.

Byline: Jennifer Toland

COLUMN: PATRIOTS NOTES

FOXBORO - Training camp officially ended yesterday, but the Patriots' preparations for the 2009 season are far from over.

"Just because you break camp doesn't mean the camp mentality is over with," center Dan Koppen said. "You've still got a lot of work to do and a lot of getting better to do."

Camp opened July 30, and the last 2-1/2 weeks have featured 12 double sessions, including eight straight two-a-days to begin camp, and 18 practices held in full pads. Koppen said it was the toughest camp in his seven seasons with the team.

"Definitely we've put in some work," wide receiver Wes Welker said, "and that's what training camp is all about."

The Patriots finished training camp with - you guessed it - two practices, the first a walkthrough, the second in shells.

New England hosts the Bengals at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in its second preseason game. As Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained, the second preseason game marks the unofficial transition from camp to more of a regular-season schedule.

"Next week, when we play Washington, we'll kind of treat that like a normal, sort of normal week during the regular season as we prepare for the game," Belichick said. "This week is a little bit of a transition from the training camp that we had in the first two weeks of camp to what we'll be doing next week as we head into our third preseason game. From a scheduling standpoint, preparation standpoint, things that we work on, situations and different drills and the way we prepare our team for games, we're starting to get into some elements of that as well as specifically preparing for the Bengals."

Belichick seems pleased with the team's progress to this point.

"I think we've gotten a lot of work done," he said. "I think we still have a long way to go. I think we're better than we were. Are we making progress? Yeah, we should. We've practiced 27 times or whatever it is. Compared to the other teams that are doing the same thing? We'll find out. I hope so."

Glad to be back

Laurence Maroney started last week's preseason game against the Eagles and said he felt good in his first game action since Week 3 of the 2008 season.

"I felt good, a little rusty," Maroney said, "but it was just good to get back out there and get a feel for the game. It was fun to be back out there."

Maroney, coming back from a shoulder injury, carried six times for 14 yards.

"I think Laurence has had a real good offseason," Belichick said. "I think he got a lot done, both physically and from a technique standpoint. I think his work in the passing game has shown up on the field, as well as pass protection. Of course, we know he can run the ball and also be involved in the return game. I think he's had a productive camp. I think he's ready to go."

Maroney said he did not think about his shoulder during last week's game.

"Not at all," he said. "I was thinking about trying to score. I wanted to go out there and play hard and make good decisive reads and get what I could get."

Likes the 4-3

Richard Seymour seems to like the possibility of the Patriots moving to a 4-3 defense.

"It's one extra big guy on the field," said the Pats defensive end. "As a defensive lineman, we always like the big guys on the field. We have the versatility to play in a lot of different fronts, a lot of different packages, whatever is going to give our team the edge. The offense always knows where the play is going, the snap count, so if we can do some different things on defense to help us out in that process, whether it's 3-4 or 4-3, whatever can give us the best chance to win, that's what we'll do."

Add a safety

The Patriots signed safety Roderick Rogers yesterday.

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound Rogers was originally signed by the Broncos as a rookie free agent out of Washington in 2007. He spent most of his rookie season on Denver's practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster for the final two games of the year.

Rogers played in three games for Denver last season before being waived. He finished last year on the Vikings' practice squad. He was released by Minnesota on June 1.

NAME: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Patriots running back Laurence Maroney, left, said he felt good in his first game action since Week 3 of the 2008 season.

PHOTOG: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 19, 2009
Words:787
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