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Patriots by position: Running back

01.20.10 at 12:54 am ET
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t1-faulk

Faulk was the only Patriots player with more than 300 yards rushing (335, second on the team) and 300 yards receiving (301, fourth on the team) in the regular season. (AP)

Over the next couple of weeks, as the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’ll present a snapshot of the team by position. First off, running back:

On the roster: Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Stat standouts: Leading rusher: Maroney, 757 yards. Yards Per Carry: Faulk, 5.4 yards. Best single game: (tie) Taylor, 21 carries, 105 yards, 1 TD vs. Atlanta on 9/27/09; Maroney, 16 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD vs. Tennessee on 10/18/09.

2009, in three sentences: Unreliable. The New England ground game had its good moments — in 10 of the regular-season 16 games, the Patriots had 100-plus rushing yards. But almost every time they were counted to deliver in a big moment (Morris’ key fourth-down conversion against Atlanta was an exception, rather than the rule) the New England running backs came up short.

By the numbers: After a first-quarter goal-line fumble against the Jaguars on Dec. 27, Maroney had one carry the rest of the way — that includes the playoffs.

Money quote: (tie) “Do I have something to prove to my team or myself? Not really. I know how good of a back I am and I think the team knows how good a back I am, so as far as going out there to prove anything, I don’t have to prove nothing to nobody. I know how good I am.” —Maroney, before the playoffs, on his doubters.

“You watch Voltron? Anybody watch Voltron? Don’t tell me none of you have never seen Voltron. Nobody’s never seen the cartoon Voltron? The tigers, they connect.” —Maroney on waiting for Taylor to return from injury so that “Voltron” (his term for the running back crew) could reconnect like the old cartoon.

The skinny: When it comes to 2010, Taylor — who signed a two-year deal before the start of the 2009 season — is a question mark because of age and health. (He never seemed to really get back on track after an October ankle injury.) Maroney and Morris will also each enter the final year of their deals, while Faulk is a free agent and Green-Ellis is strictly there for depth. If the Patriots believe Maroney (the only running back who averaged less than four yards a carry) is a goner — and based on how he finished the season, he could be — and Taylor has nothing left in the tank, this a position that could undergo some serious change in the offseason. The one constant will likely be Faulk, who just completed his 11th season in New England and was one of the most dependable and consistent offensive options the Patriots had.

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney
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