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Our next stop on the postseason grading tour of the 2008 Patriots are the running backs, who were perhaps the most scattered position on the team with injuries.
Laurence Maroney: C-
Thoughts: Count me as a person who has completely jumped off the Laurence Maroney bandwagon. After a decent rookie season Maroney has been nothing but hurt or ineffective for the Patriots. This year was no different as the former first round pick had just 93 yards on 28 carries (3.32 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns. Maroney played just three games before being placed on IR for a shoulder injury. 2009 will be a make or break year for Maroney as without him the Patriots three headed monster at running back seemed to work pretty well. I hope for his sake his injury problems are behind him or we could see him take the Chad Jackson route right out of town.
Sammy Morris: A-
Thoughts: Sammy Morris turned into the rock in the Patriots backfield throughout 2008. Though he missed three games in the middle of the season due to injury he still finished with a team high 727 yards and seven touchdowns. His 4.7 ypc average isn’t something to scoff at and he’s great in short yardage situations. I don’t think anyone will argue he’s a legit number one star running back but with a speedy compliment he’s a great asset going forward.
Kevin Faulk: A-
Thoughts: Year after year this guy brings it every week and makes the big plays that don’t get the publicity. His stats aren’t gaudy (507 rush yards, 486 receiving yards, 6 total TDs) but anyone who watches the Patriots week in, week out knows who should get the ball on a key third down. What makes 2008 an excellent year for Faulk is that he never had a huge turnover which changed the course of a game as we’ve seen sometimes in the past.
LaMont Jordan: B-
Thoughts: When he played, LaMont Jordan was a solid back for the Patriots. He averaged just more than 4.5 yards a carry and scored four TDs. Jordan is a tough runner who also brings some agility to the table and is an asset I’m sure the Patriots will want to hold on to. Where he needs to improve is his receiving skills, as he didn’t catch a single pass in 2008, and injuries as he missed nine weeks during the season with a calf injury. If he can stay healthy the Patriots have a solid number two running back.
BenJarvis Green-Ellis: B+
Thoughts: In another rags to riches story Bill Belichick picked up Green-Ellis for nothing and he turns into a pretty decent player. He’ll probably never have a solid spot in the running back rotation but he gets the B+ grade because of his performances when the Patriots needed him. With the injuries at running back stacking up the rookie was called upon to carry the rock and he racked up 65 yards against the Broncos, 57 yards against the Colts and 105 yards against the Bills. He scored five TDs on the season and proved he belongs on the roster. Plus, he has the most ridiculous name in the NFL.
Overall running back Grade: B