Quick Take: The Patriots are missing Maroney who is the team's leading rusher, bus as Adam Caplan and Jon Scott mentioned in their week 4 preview piece, Maroney has had trouble hitting the hole and Sammy Morris actually looks like a more productive back. Maroney hasn't been able to get into his groove in 2007 since returning from offseason surgery on his shoulder. Morris on the other hand has looked solid, running the ball hard, hitting the hole quickly and rarely turning in a negative play. Until Maroney finds a way to be more consistent, the Patriots will fare well running a spread offense using Morris and veteran Kevin Faulk as their backs of choice.
The Patriots released linebacker Corey Mays today to make room for running back Kyle Eckel, whom they signed off the practice squad. The former Navy product has won a spot in Bill Belichick's heart after the Patriots resigned the former undrafted free agent after he was released by the Dolphins. Eckel is active for tonight's game, and it may be Belichick's way to test the young fullback. Eckel was one of the top 10 backs in Navy history..
The Patriots also have Heath Evans, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk for their active running backs tonight.
Ryan O'Callaghan is inactive tonight. It was O'Callaghan's duty to lineup on short yardage jumbo packages as an extra tight end. Britt, who split time with O'Callaghan at tackle during training camp, will fill in for the former Cal product.
With Thomas and Kareem Brown out, the Patriots plan on using Mike Wright as Vince Wilfork's primary backup tonight. Wright filled in last season when Wilfork was nursing an injury. Wright has been unable to play thus far this season and this would be his first action of the year. Thomas was a reserve defender who can be replaced by Le Kevin Smith.
WR Kelley Washington misses his return to Cincinnati, but he's been nursing a sore hamstring and the Patriots have more than enough weapons with Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth (also nursing a sore hamstring), Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, the running backs and their tight ends as targets for Tom Brady.
Offiicial Game Thread (Pats site)