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Patterson in line for bigger things

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK - Though the exact number has been disputed, most Maryland people will tell you that there are upward of 600 plays in Ralph Friedgen's legendary playbook. The goal of every offensive player is to eventually know them all.

Akil Patterson readily admits that, last year, he wasn't quite there yet.

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"To tell you the truth, I think I only knew five plays," said Patterson, trying to suppress a grin. "I could block all five really well, but I only knew those five."

Problem was, Patterson had been a defensive lineman his entire career at Frederick High School, and blocking schemes were never much more than an afterthought. But after he sat out the 2001 season as a redshirt, the Maryland coaching staff needed depth at guard and thought his upper-body strength and ballerina feet would be better suited at that position. At the start of last year, they switched him to the other side of the ball.

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"I think I only had about a week of offensive training," said Patterson, who still played in seven games as a reserve. "The whole season was kind of rush, rush, rush."

Things are a bit calmer this season, though the expectations for the 6-foot-3, 290-pound sophomore are much higher. He and senior Ed Tyler are both fighting to replace Lamar Bryant, who will miss at least six weeks with a broken foot.

"That's a pretty good battle right there," Friedgen said. "Ed definitely has the advantage of knowing what he's doing, but Akil is a pretty physical kid. He makes some mistakes, but he's not making as many as he did before."

That was evident in Sunday's scrimmage, when Patterson had a few mental lapses but also opened some nice holes for running back Josh Allen. It's likely that Patterson and Tyler will both play against Northern Illinois, but Patterson's potential has certainly turned some heads this preseason.

"Now I'm understanding the scheme a bit more," Patterson said. "I understand football better. The defensive mind-set is to be kind of like an animal, and I'm more of a thinker by nature."

For that reason, Patterson, a criminal justice major, wants to pursue a career in politics when his playing days are over. Not surprisingly, his football philosophy has the ring of a campaign slogan to it.

"Every day is a good day and every day is a bad day at some point," Patterson said. "I just keep telling myself: Don't dwell on the past; concentrate on the future."

McBrien gets rest

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As expected, quarterback Scott McBrien sat out both the morning and afternoon practices yesterday with a strained groin muscle, leaving backup Orlando Evans to take all the first-team snaps. Friedgen said McBrien felt better after a day of rest, but that he would likely be held out of practice until Saturday. If it becomes longer than that, offensive coordinator Charlie Taffe says he's confident Evans can do the job.

Said Evans: "Even before [McBrien] went down, I was thinking that I had to be ready at any time. In the scrimmage, I was just out there having fun, having a good time and loving the game. I'm ready to step in and do whatever is asked."

Et cetera

Running back Sam Maldonado, currently second on the depth chart behind Allen, missed both practices yesterday with a pulled hip flexor. ... Running back Bruce Perry has been walking around practice without his protective boot the past couple of days. Friedgen said he's progressing and might begin cutting and running soon, depending on how much pain Perry can handle. ... Running back Mario Merrills (Wilde Lake) has begun practicing on a limited basis after missing the first two weeks with a hamstring injury.


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