With Corey Dillon gone, the bulk of the running game will fall onto Laurence Maroney’s shoulders. And speaking of shoulders, how is Maroney’s? Maroney’s health will be a key factor to the Patriot’s success this season. The Patriots have also retained Kevin Faulk, who is entering his ninth season, all of which have been with the Patriots. Faulk will likely continue his third down role. However, an interesting factor is the Patriot’s offseason pickup, Sammy Morris. Morris does a lot of things that Faulk does. He has good hands out of the backfield, was a third down back at Miami, and is pretty nifty and fast. The Patriots also have hybrid runningback Heath Evans. Evans is obviously a bruiser, and with Dillon gone, he could get a lot of playing time, especially around the goal line. The biggest wildcard for runningbacks, is sixth round pick Justise Hairston. Hairston was a beast playing I-AA ball in college. At 220 pounds, he is a bruiser, and coming off a solid mini-camp season, it will be interesting to see if he can warrant a roster spot. There is also Patrick Pass, who remains unsigned. I hope that the Patriots bring him in and let him compete. He is a very versatile player. He can play halfback, fullback, receiver, kick returner, punt team, and kickoff team. He has been fighting injury for the last two years, but if he can overcome it, I think he can become a valuable member of the team.
Predicted Depth Chart
1. Laurence Maroney. Rating: 89
2. Kevin Faulk. Rating: 81
3. Sammy Morris. Rating: 77
4. Heath Evans (fullback). Rating: 74
5. Justise Hairston (practice squad). Rating: 68
Quinton Smith, Quadtrine Hill
Training Camp Battles
Quadtrine Hill vs. Quinton Smith
Both of these players will be trying to prove why they deserve a practice squad spot. Quinton Smith was absent for most of minicamp, so I don’t know much about him, and Hill has actually looked half decent in practices (last year).
Kevin Faulk vs. Sammy Morris
This could potentially be an interesting battle. Both players have similar skillsets, and similar experience. Right now, my nod would go to Faulk because of his experience in the Patriot’s system.
Runningback Grade: B+