Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Faulk the latest New England ACL victim?

Posted by Bill Koch on September 21, 2010

Kevin Faulk has always been the type of player you wouldn’t notice until he’s gone – and that might be happening a lot sooner rather than later for the New England Patriots.

Reports started to circulate Tuesday afternoon that Faulk has a torn ACL in his right knee and will be placed on injured reserve, ending his 2010 season almost before it ever really started. The 34-year-old running back will be reevaluated throughout this week and Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick said the team would make a decision on Faulk in the near future. Faulk sustained the injury on Sunday against the New York Jets and didn’t return to the game. Trainers were spotted in the bench area tending to Faulk’s right knee.

This is a crushing blow for New England, both on the field and off. Faulk is a 12-year veteran and the only player on the roster who precedes Belichick, an instant voice of reason and respect in the Patriots’ locker room who has seemed almost ageless in his backfield role. Faulk has played more snaps than any other running back in New England since 2007, a product of the Patriots spreading the field and using Faulk as both pass blocker and reliable option out of the backfield. Tom Brady’s safety valve now appears to be shut off for the rest of this season and possibly beyond – 34-year-old running backs don’t tend to see 100 percent again after this sort of injury.

Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are the three remaining running backs in New England’s rotation. Look for the Patriots to shuffle their personnel, potentially bring in someone who can play exclusively on third down and employ more two tight end sets with explosive rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. If there’s one thing Belichick has always been able to do, it’s make adjustments. He’s had to do it each of the last two years after Brady tore his ACL in the 2008 opener and Wes Welker tore his ACL late in 2009 against Houston. The final 14 weeks of the season is plenty of time for Belichick to figure out a solution, but losing a player like Faulk isn’t an easy problem to solve.

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