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August 16, 2007

Lights out: Patriots get the green light

Just a day before the second of their four exhibitions, the New England Patriots close training camp to the public beginning today.



With just 24 days to the regular-season opener against the New York Jets, it is time to assess a handful of situations that merit discussion.



To do so, we will return to the days of youth and play that old childhood favorite of mine, "Red Light-Green Light!"



Start with the big one, of course, Randy Moss.



1-2-3 ... Green light!



It might be a bit of a delayed green. You won't see Moss tomorrow night against Tennessee or probably even the rest of the exhibition season as Bill Belichick lays to rest all those inane "chemistry" questions.



Remember, 100 catches, 1,000 yards, 10 TDs.



How about Moss' receiving companions?



Donte' Stallworth?



1-2-3 ... Red light!



Too hurt, too often. Too much a David Terrell clone.



Kelley Washington?



Green light!



Forget the two nice catches on Friday night in Tampa. The former backup to Chad Johnson (Ocho-Cinco) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (pronounced Hush-Mazzilli) has the size, speed and tools to perfectly complement Moss and incumbent slot specialist Wes Welker.



He did what Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney couldn't do, namely get open against everyday NFL defensive backs.



All Washington needs is a shot and the Pats will give it to him.



Troy Brown and Bam Childress?



Yellow light!



The sixth receiver spot on the roster looks headed to a showdown between the sentimental favorite Brown (now 36) and the intriguing young Ohio State product who does nothing but make plays.



Ironically, Childress is reminiscent of a young Brown, whom Belichick has promised would have a role with the team.



Sticking with the offense, how about the present and the future of the running game, Laurence Maroney?



1-2-3 ... Red light!



Yes, red, as in the color of the jersey the second-year man has worn since Day 1 of camp.



The most important piece of the offensive puzzle, aside from Tom Brady, can't carry a "fragile" tag. You may not hear it from the Pats, but this is a definite area of concern.



If Maroney can't go, Sammy Morris ... Yellow light!



Kevin Faulk? Green light! An effective weapon of a green, but it's on a trip switch and only lasts a 5-6 touches a game.



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