Heathy Running Backs An Issue For Patriots

FOXBORO -- Sammy Morris didn't practice yet again this week and his status remains in doubt for Sunday's game. LaMont JOrdan is also listed as doubtful." So what are the Patriots supposed to do now?

RB Sammy Morris did not participate in Wednesday, Thursday or Friday's practices after sitting out the second half of Monday's game with a knee injury. His status for Sunday is listed as doubtful on the team report.

According to an NFL Network report, verifying Scout.com's Adam Caplan's earlier report, Morris will miss a short period of time as the knee injury is serious enough to require rest, but is not considered a major injury. The NFL Network estimates the time for Morris' recovery to be 2-3 weeks. That sounds about right according to Caplan.

"It's believed the knee injury he suffered wasn't serious and he'll likely miss just a few games," Caplan wrote via e-mail Friday.

New England turned in one of their most productive rushing performances last weekend without the help of two of their top three running backs; Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan. While Morris turned in a career-best performance, Jordan missed the game due to a lingering calf issue. Maroney was placed on I/R prior to the contest, and is gone for the year. Without Morris on Sunday against the Rams, New England will need the remaining backs to "step up" as the saying goes.

The Patriots will need to rely on FB Heath Evans, RB Kevin Faulk and rookie RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, as fellow RB LaMont Jordan is also ailing from an injury and is listed as doubtful on the injury report.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick believes that rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis can do just that if necessary.

" I think that we have had contributions from all of our running backs. Whichever guy has been in the game has been productive for us - LaMont [Jordan], Sammy [Morris], Kevin [Faulk], BenJarvus [Green-Ellis], Heath [Evans], Laurence [Maroney]. I expect that it will continue that way," said the Patriots head coach on Friday. Which ever running back gets the carries on game day Belichick expects them to be ready, and he's sure the rookie is. "BenJarvus is ready on every down," the coach affirmed.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also threw his support behind the Patriots rookie running back.

He [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] is a good [running] back. We have liked what we have seen since we got him," McDaniels said Friday. "He has good vision and gets the ball downhill. He knows what he is and he knows what he is not. I think that is really a tribute to him."

One distinction that McDaniels made comparing Green-Ellis to other runners -- and possibly not intending to cast aspersions upon Laurence Maroney in the process -- was to describe his running style.

"He is not a dancer and that is kind of what we like about him. He knows where the hole is at, he finds it, he hits it and he is not going to try to do much sideline-to-sideline running."

What McDaniels said in complimenting Green-Ellis could be construed as criticism of Maroney who has been labeled as a back with happy feet. The biggest knock on the Patriots former first round back is his inability to hit the hole with authority and his tendency to "dance" behind the line.

With Maroney done for the year, it will be interesting to see if an Undrafted rookie can fill the shows of a back making millions more than him. Either way, the Patriots need more from their backs on Sunday, and Green-Ellis is ready for the challenge.

“I prepare hard every day. I take it one day at a time and prepare to the best of my ability," said Green-Ellis. "The guys, Heath [Evans] Kevin [Faulk] and Sammy [Morris], helped me out all week with little tips and things like that. It helped out.”


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