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Candid Dillon reads between lines

His accomplishments are well-documented

FOXBOROUGH -- Corey Dillon knows what type of player he has been and what type of player he plans to continue to be, but he must have felt he needed to remind some that he has been a top player in the NFL for some time.

Dillon, in a playful but telling interview session yesterday morning, whipped out his bio and asked a reporter to read from the lengthy list of accomplishments.

The point?

``I feel real disrespected," Dillon said, after the Patriots ended the open portion of the team's three-day mandatory minicamp. ``I feel like I have accomplished zero, not even a grain of salt in this league. And that's terrible, for a guy of my status. I've been doing this for a long time.

`` I sleep real good at night. I know who I am. Maybe other people can't really gauge who I am. That's fine. I know my status. I know what type of player I am. I know what I bring to a team."

For seven of his nine seasons, the bruising runner posted at least 1,100 rushing yards, including a franchise-record 1,635 with the Patriots in 2004.

But last year was among the worst of his career. Though he matched a career high with 12 touchdowns, he rushed for just 733 yards during a season in which he ``was limping for a month and a half."

``Not good, not by my standards," Dillon said. ``I dealt with injury the whole year, but that's last year. I'm healthy, I'm ready. This is the best that I've felt at this point in time in the last three years."

This is a good time for Dillon to be at his best. The Patriots picked Laurence Maroney in the first round of April's draft, with the intention of him being the franchise's feature back in the future. To allay any fears Dillon might have had about job security, coach Bill Belichick called the veteran on draft day.

``He didn't have to," Dillon said. ``I think Bill's a very, very great coach and he just wanted to give me a heads up."

The new kid on the blocking sled says Dillon has been very helpful with sharing information on how the Patriots do things. Running backs coach Ivan Fears said Dillon doesn't have to help Maroney along, but doing so illustrates he is a team player.

``Why not? What kind of person would I be, I have all this knowledge and this experience in this league, and not share it?" Dillon said. ``I'd be a [jerk], and I don't want to be a [jerk], so why not share it?

``He's a quick learner, great student. He's going to be OK. He's a nice young talent. I think he's going to be OK in the years to come. He's going to do big things for them."

Dillon said he is energized and ready to go, and expecting to do big things this season as well, particularly compared with last year. He adjusted his offseason regimen and believes he'll be in top form by the time training camp rolls around. He joked that the New England media is ``running neck and neck" with the Cincinnati media that gave him a hard time during his seven seasons there, yet he isn't motivated by quieting the critics.

``I do this for myself. Because I love to do it," Dillon said. ``I do it for this organization and my teammates. My stats speak for themselves. Why do I need to prove something to somebody?

``I've been in this league 10 years and it's a honor being in this league for 10 years. There's not too many players that can say, `I've been a running back in the National Football League for 10 years, and [have been] pretty damn good.' "

Dillon has rushed for more yards (10,429) than all but 16 players in NFL history, and is only 1,814 yards from moving into the top 10. But his worst two seasons (and his career-best season) have come in the past three years.

Though he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Dillon feels he is closer to being the back who rushed for 1,600-plus yards two seasons ago, than the one who struggled to get 700 a year ago. Maroney stands to take some carries from Dillon, but that could serve to keep the 31-year-old fresher through the season.

Dillon doesn't take Maroney's arrival as a ``hint, hint" that his job is in jeopardy. ``Fighting for a job? Are you kidding me?" he said. ``You want to read [my bio] again?"

He had even more fun with speculation that his weight is up from where it was a year ago.

``I want to come [into training camp] about 270 [pounds] and work my way down from there," he said. ``I'll be pretty quick at 270. We'll see.

``I'm going to come into training camp where I need to be, at 230, and we'll take it from there."

Dillon used NBA star Allen Iverson's infamous ``practice" tone to stress that mid-June is not the time to turn it on physically for a 16-game season that doesn't begin until September.

``We're talking about minicamp . . . MINICAMP . . . MI-NI-CAMP," he said before heading to the locker room.

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