Spotlight: Sammy Morris

Veteran running back Sammy Morris joined the Patriots after playing for division rivals Buffalo and Miami. The versatile back understands that he may be asked to contribute more than his advice to second-year back Laurence Maroney. Red on for more on this Camp spotlight.

Morris Fits In The Backfield

With the departure of Corey Dillon, the Patriots signed free agent RB Sammy Morris from the Dolphins to help fill the void of their former pro bowl back.

Morris will serve in a backup role behind second-year running back Laurence Maroney and will assume the duties of Dillon. Morris signed a four-year deal worth $7 million with New England. He will receive $5 million over the first two years of deal. But Morris comes to New England not to be another Corey Dillon.

"I approach the game the way I play it," said Morris after practice last week. "I'm not focused on trying to replace somebody. I'm just trying to be the best ball player I can be."

In Dillon's last year with the Patriots, he was relegated to mostly short yardage and goal-line duties, with Maroney taking away much of his playing time. Morris said he brings the team more options and versatility.

Running back Sammy Morris carries the ball during evening practice at Patriots training camp August 5, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba /

"For what it seems, (the coaches) got a bunch of personnel sets," said Morris. "As a backfield, we all bring different things to the table. I just anticipate the coaches using that the best way they see fit. I think versatility is something I've tried to do from my first year in the league."

His value to the team is to "just be versatile," which includes special teams.

"I think the biggest thing is utilizing what I do best," he said. "I think for me being a complete player and being a complete person is being able to play special teams. It's something I like to do and it's just kind of the ballplayer I am."

Morris said he came to New England knowing it was a solid organization.

"I think there has been a lot said about their organization," said Morris. "I've been admiring them from afar and I had the opportunity to sign the last two times being a free agent and it finally worked out and it's the best deal. I think we have a good shot to do great things this year."

Morris also comes to New England with some baggage. He was suspended for the first four games of the regular season last year for violating the league's steroid policy.

Running back Sammy Morris makes an acrobatic catch during practice at Patriots training camp (Photo Kevin Saleeba /

Morris tested positive for ephedrine on Oct. 17, 2005, the day after a 27-13 loss to the Buccaneers. Ephedrine is on the banned stimulant list of the NFL's Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances, which calls for a suspension for the first violation. The league's substance-abuse policy calls for admission into the program and counseling for first-time offenders.

Morris said he has put last year's suspension behind him and has moved on.

"I was actually talking to (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Don Davis about that," Morris said. "He kind of was just asking about that. That was probably the toughest thing I had to deal with. One of the things I told Don and I told other people is the people who know me, know what happened. It's the people who started to create their own perception without having the full story is really what bothered me initially, but I'm coming to grips with it and I kind of realize I can't talk with anybody and I can't make anybody think differently of me if they don't know me. It is what it is."

Morris said he has embraced counseling. "I guess its something I had the desire to do."

Morris seems to have an affinity to playing in the AFC East. He began his pro career in 2000 in Buffalo, where he played for four seasons. He then played three seasons with the Dolphins prior to signing with New England in the off-season. During his 7-year career, he has rushed for 1,469 yards in 374 attempts with a 3.9 average yards per game. His best game last year came against New England when he rushed for 123 yards on 25 carries. He has 14 career rushing touchdowns.

Morris said the biggest challenge to moving to any team is learning the playbook. He said he had a comfort level in Miami being in the same offense for three years, but he does have experience learning new offenses.

"Anytime when you switch teams, it's obvious (learning) a new playbook (is the biggest transition)," said Morris. "Maybe I would have had a little comfort zone in Miami with the same offense, but in my first four years in Buffelo, there was a new playbook every year… The last three years knowing the plays, I had my comfort zone stretched a little bit. That's the biggest thing, just learning the difference (this year)."

Morris said he doesn't plan on playing for all AFC East teams or ever donning the J-E-T-S green.

"Hopefully I won't make it to that team (the Jets) and just finish my career here, Morris said. "Hopefully not, it's not what I'm looking for right now."

His father, Samuel Morris II, was a staff sergeant in the Air Force. He said his father instilled discipline in him growing up.
"My dad, talking to him, he's a laidback guy," said Morris. "But he put his foot down when he had to."

After only a few weeks of training camp, Morris is optimistic the 2007 Pats are on the right track to success.. "It's a new team," he said. "I'm (only) worried about what we do here in '07… I think we are progressing well as a team."

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