Draft misses -- Adrian Klemm, Kenyatta Jones, Rohan Davey, Bethel Johnson, Ryan Claridge -- have been few and far between since Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli started calling the shots in 2000.

Draft misses -- Adrian Klemm, Kenyatta Jones, Rohan Davey, Bethel Johnson, Ryan Claridge -- have been few and far between since Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli started calling the shots in 2000.

But did the Patriots' brain trust err in 2006 when they picked Laurence Maroney, and not Joseph Addai, to be their running back of the future?

"I don't see it that way," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Friday.

It's a question that pops up every so often, especially when Maroney submits a game like last week's six-carry, 19-yard effort against Buffalo.

Since they were drafted nine spots apart by Super Bowl-contending teams -- the Patriots selected Maroney No. 21 overall; Addai went to the Colts at No. 30 -- the two likely will always be compared. So far, Addai has clear advantages in just about every regular-season stat -- games (26 to 21), carries (428 to 270), rushing yards (1,957 to 1,181), catches (71 to 24), receiving yards (594 to 231) and touchdowns (19 to 8).

Addai also leads in Super Bowl rings, 1-0, although that could change soon.

Maroney did score his first TD of the season against the Bills, but he hurt his foot and took part in only 13 plays - an absence that was ill-timed because Kevin Faulk left with a concussion and Sammy Morris was already on injured reserve.

Maroney (95 carries for 436 yards, a 4.6-yard average) was not listed on the injury report this week and should play against the Eagles Sunday night.

However, the episode -- coming on the heels of his missing three games earlier this season with a groin injury -- again called into question his durability. Maroney also sat out two games as a rookie.

"I think that's something that everybody goes through," McDaniels said. "It just so happens that he's had a couple of them here this year and then coming off his injury last year. I think he's a durable player that's had some unfortunate things happen to him. I'm not worried about him not being there. I think he's a tough guy, a tough player. He'll play injured. He'll play with a bump or a bruise and we would expect that of him and I think he expects that of himself."

One reason Addai has produced better numbers than Maroney is obvious -- opportunity. Addai has had 10 games with 20-plus carries in his career (seven of them this season). Maroney has done that once -- against the Jets in Week 1 this season when he rushed 20 times for 72 yards. Although the Patriots' fifth-ranked rushing offense as taken a back seat to the record-setting passing attack so far this season, with winter weather approaching, McDaniels acknowledged that the running game could become more of a focal point.

"Laurence is playing well," McDaniels said. "I think maybe the amount he's played in certain games may make it seem like that's not the case, but it is ... When he's in there, we're happy with him. He's doing a good job. He's also doing a good job in pass protection, which is also something that for a rookie back, last year, was a significant point of emphasis coming into this season and he's really stepped it up in that aspect, too."

How unfair!

This doesn't seem fair. The Patriots have supplemented the NFL's deadliest offense with six return TDs, tied with the Chargers for the most in the league. The non-offensive scores -- fumble returns by Rosevelt Colvin (11), Randall Gay (15) and Ellis Hobbs (35), kick returns by Hobbs (108 yards) and Willie Andrews (77), and Adalius Thomas' 65-yard INT runback.

Last year the Patriots had only one regular-season return TD -- Hobbs' 93-yard kickoff against Houston -- before Asante Samuel brought back picks for scores against both the Jets and Colts in the playoffs.

"It's great. It's what I would consider bonus points," coach Bill Belichick said. "You don't go into a game thinking that, well, we're going to score a touchdown on a fumble return or we're going to score a touchdown on a kickoff return or something. You don't go into a game thinking that, because you're lucky if you get three or four of those through the entire course of the season. If you get one a month, you're probably doing well. We're a little over that."

Brady’s success

With Tom Brady at quarterback the Patriots have scored TDs on nine of their last 10 possessions -- two straight against the Colts before they ran out the clock on their last drive, and seven in a row to begin the Bills game before Brady gave way to backup Matt Cassel.

"I don't know about any records of things that we've done or haven't done, I just hope we keep executing together and putting together drives, scoring points, and doing what were supposed to be doing and playing that way on a weekly basis," McDaniels said. "Can I appreciate those things that you mentioned? Probably not. But can I appreciate the level of execution our guys have had in certain games? Certainly.

"I think the other thing is that we want to make sure that we continue to strive to get a higher level of execution. And I think that sense of urgency permeates itself throughout the team, throughout the offense, and certainly throughout the coaching staff."

Injury report

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (ankle/thumb) did not practice again on Friday and was listed as doubtful for the game. He is likely to be replaced by A.J. Feeley. Philly also listed SS Quintin Mikell (knee) as doubtful, meaning J.R. Reed will get the start.

The Patriots report no injuries other than Brady's normal status -- probable/right shoulder.


The Patriots are 25-4 against the NFC since 2001 and have won 21 of their last 23.

If the Pats claim the AFC East title this weekend - either by beating the Eagles or having the Jaguars knock off the Bills - they will tie for the earliest clinch since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978. The other teams that wrapped up division crowns during the weekend of their 11th game - the 1985 Bears, the 1997 49ers and the 2004 Eagles.

This game will pit the two teams with the best November/December records in the NFL since 2000. The Patriots are 45-15 (.750 winning percentage); the Eagles are 44-17 (.721).

Under Andy Reid, Philly won its first 10 prime-time games (playoffs included) and 16 of its first 17. Since then the Eagles are 2-10 and have lost four straight, including three this season (to the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys).