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These two not playing nicely

Smith takes shot at Poole

FOXBOROUGH -- From the first play of Super Bowl XXXVIII, Carolina receiver Steve Smith and Patriots cornerback Tyrone Poole didn't get along. Nearly two years later, for at least one of the players, that hasn't changed a bit.

Smith, who engaged in a shoving match with Poole during the first quarter of that game, blasted Poole on Sirius NFL Radio Monday.

''There's a lot of people I have respect for," Smith said. ''Tyrone Poole, he's not [one of them]. He's like Nike and I'm like Reebok. I don't talk to him. I got nothing to say to him."

Poole was not made available for comment yesterday.

Smith's vitriol stems from the Super Bowl altercation, after which, Smith alleges, Poole spat on him.

''In the Super Bowl, first play, he kind of jams me and busts my lip," Smith said. ''So I said, 'OK, you're trying to get physical.' Next play he comes, and I stiff-arm him to the ground. So it was a physical match.

''Then he started calling me names. He's a Christian -- and he wasn't cursing at me -- but he was just calling me some names that, in my book, was cussing still. So I said, 'Look here, Dog. You're gonna shut up, and I'm gonna make you shut up.' I was hot. I was very hot."

The radio show's host, Shannon Sharpe, asked Smith if he and Poole could ever be friends. Smith replied, ''Nah," then offered a biting challenge.

''I'm gonna whup his [expletive] on the field," Smith said. ''That's all I gotta say."

He'll get his chance Sept. 18, when the Patriots travel to Carolina.

Trying time for Davey

Yesterday, the Patriots began preparation for Friday's opening exhibition game against the Bengals, which will consist mostly of ''running your generic stuff against their generic stuff," said Tom Brady.You probably won't be hearing that on an NFL promo.

But some performances will be worth watching, none more so than that of backup quarterback Rohan Davey, the 2004 NFL Europe MVP who has struggled to find that form on this side of the Atlantic. He has a 47 percent career completion rate in exhibition games and has struggled mightily with his accuracy during camp.

Coach Bill Belichick insisted that this season, Davey's fourth, is not a crossroads for Davey, but with seventh-round rookie Matt Cassel playing like a veteran and venerable Doug Flutie in the picture, Davey, the No. 2 quarterback last year, may be fighting for a roster spot.

''Around here, it's always a challenge," Davey said. ''Everything is always about what you can do on the football team or how you can step up to challenges. I'm not saying that's what happened by bringing in others -- we bring in veterans every year. Since I've been here, we've had Jim Miller, Chris Redman. We've had guys every year. It's not a big thing with me as far as guys coming in."

On his own schedule

Willie McGinest practiced again yesterday after making his camp debut Monday. Why the late start? ''We've been on a schedule with Willie for the last couple of years in terms of training camp and his preparation for the season," Belichick said. ''I think it has worked well for him and it worked well for the team. Whatever it is, it's because we feel like it's mutually beneficial for the player, the team, and the unit that he's on." . . . Tight end Ben Watson sat out practice again. Though Watson hasn't practiced in more than a week, Belichick didn't rule him out against Cincinnati, labeling him ''day-to-day." . . . A day after signing tight end Matt Brandt to replace the released Andy Stokes, the Patriots reintroduced him to the NFL's employment line yesterday by releasing him after he participated in just one practice . . . Safety Rodney Harrison had the morning session off but practiced at night. Several of his teammates, though, took the evening session off: Christian Fauria, Matt Light, Randall Gay, Rosevelt Colvin, Tully Banta-Cain, Ty Warren, Santonio Thomas, Daniel Graham, and Ryan Claridge.

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