Patriots' running back Fred Taylor speaks of his first year in New England as a trying season. Taylor made the rounds at the Super Bowl radio row this week in Miami. After struggling through another season with injuries, he spent time answering questions about his future in New England.
The Boston Globe caught up with Taylor to ask about his first season in Foxboro.
"I feel like I let some people down, including myself," Taylor told the Globe's Adam Kilgore."But I've got another chance, another opportunity to prove myself."
Taylor signed a multi-year deal with a sizable signing bonus, so he should, get the chance to return, at least he hopes so.
"I signed a two-year deal," Taylor said. "In my mind, I would like to finish it. I haven't really spoke to anyone regarding what's going to happen, but we'll see soon, I think.
The problem that Taylor faces is trying to shed the injury-prone tag that has haunted him his entire career. Although scouts considering him one of the best backs in the league -- amassing over 11,000 yards over his career -- he can only help a team when he's healthy.
FoxSports.com sat down with Taylor to ask him about the toll a long career takes on a running back.
"I get motivated when I hear guys say 30 year old running backs can't make it happen," Taylor told Foxsports.com's Laura Omkin.
"I think the key thing that's not usually factored in when you're training is injuries. But that's part of the game. The stuff I really can control is training right, setting that foundation, and eating properly."
Taylor agreed with the theory that the Patriots organization is different from others in the league.
"It's different," Taylor said with a chuckle. "Coach Belichick, it starts with him."
Belichick obviously made an impression on Taylor. "I've been in the league 11 years before going up there, and I'd sit back in awe. Just the way he carries himself."
"I learned more in this year than I learned in 11 years (in Jacksonville)," Taylor admitted. "[Belichick] is bright. He's intelligent."
Taylor could get a chance to play out his contract, the 34-year old is scheduled to earn just $2 million this season. His original deal was a 2-year $5 million arrangement.
History may be against him
At 34, with his history of injuries, Taylor may not get that chance to prove older backs can still be productive or collect $2 million for passing go (the team's physical).
Taylor began the season as the strong veteran presence the team was looking for. He was added to boost the performance of veteran backSammy Morris and third down specialist Kevin Faulk. It was believed that Taylor, Morris and Faulk could carry the load that former first round pick Laurence Maroney couldn't.
By the third week of the season Taylor led the team with 176 yards on 38 carries, pushing Maroney further down the depth chart. Unfortunately, the following week, his season was derailed by a swarming Ravens defense intent on preventing the Patriots ground game from taking flight.
On a short run up the middle, Taylor's ankle was crushed under the weight of Ravens defenders. Tests after the game revealed the former Jaguar had severely torn ligaments in his right ankle and would require surgery.
Taylor missed 10 weeks, seeing only limited production on his return for the Patriots' two final regular season games. Two days after Christmas, Taylor was able to play his former teammates, the Jacksonville Jaguars. He carried the ball 11 times for 33 yards. His 3.2 avg. was the least productive of all Patriots backs on the day, but New England cruised to a 35-7 win anyway.
New England is facing a decision, not only with Taylor but all of their backs. The team's top three ballcarriers are all over the age of 30; Morris (soon to turn 33), Taylor (just turned 34) and Faulk (33). Both Taylor and Morris' contracts expire in 2010 while Faulk will be a free agent this year.
The other backs on the roster are Maroney (25) and little used BenJarvus Green-Ellis (24), were considered afterthoughts when the team signed Taylor last season.
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