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Special teams reviewed

Starters are expected to see cutback in duties

FOXBOROUGH -- With the depth chart depleted because of injuries, starters playing special teams will probably get limited reps in the coming weeks.

Last Sunday, outside linebacker Mike Vrabel suffered a broken right arm on kickoff coverage. It has given coach Bill Belichick pause to reevaluate the use of significant players on special teams.

"I think we're going to have to manage our whole team," Belichick said. "That's something we've talked about. We might need to cut back some guys' reps a bit and spread that out to balance the workload. I would never tell any player that we were not going to play him on special teams. We're going to do what we need to do to win."

The Patriots are trying to fit Vrabel with a cast that would allow him enough flexibility to play, but his status will likely be a game-time decision.

Tedy Bruschi, who plays on special teams, might be one player cut back with the loss of linebackers Rosevelt Colvin (hip) and Vrabel. To make matters worse, Fred Baxter, one of the top special teams players, was on yesterday's injury report, listed as questionable with a leg injury.

There could be increased roles for David Givens and Bethel Johnson on special teams because Matt Chatham and Don Davis might play more on defense.

Honored rookie

Voters on named Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel the NFL Rookie of the Week. Samuel recorded two tackles, returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown, and defensed two passes in the Patriots' 23-16 win over the New York Jets last Sunday. More than 29,000 fans voted and Samuel beat out Arizona wide receiver Aquan Boldin, Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, and Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant . . . Former LSU linebacker Trev Faulk had a tryout this week . . . Following Sunday's game, former Boston College running back Mike Cloud will be able to rejoin the Patriots. Cloud, serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned supplement, is eligible for the Oct. 5 game against Tennessee. Cloud had surgery in training camp to relieve pressure on his left calf and reportedly is recovering well . . . Redskins coach Steve Spurrier remembers Richard Seymour from his college days, when Spurrier was coaching Florida and Seymour was at Georgia. "He's definitely an outstanding player, a very good player. I think one year at Georgia, we got in the shotgun and played there most of the time. So we didn't let their defensive line get involved too much in the outcome. We were sort of just catching it and throwing it real quick. But they were always tough to run against when he was playing. They had one of the best defensive lines in the country back then," Spurrier said. The Spurrier-Belichick matchup is being hyped as a battle of offensive genius vs. defensive genius. Spurrier didn't want too much to do with that topic. "I don't really look at it too much like that, to tell you the truth," Spurrier said. "They are a very good defensive team, no question about that."

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