Kevin Faulk: 'Upset for my teammates'

Updated: September 23, 2010, 8:29 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- An emotional Kevin Faulk confirmed Wednesday he was out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, saying he "cried a whole lot" after it happened but has since accepted his fate.

"Hey, it's life. You have to deal with it," Faulk said in the Patriots' locker room. "You get knocked off the road sometimes. [It's about] how you get back on and who you are as a person."

The 34-year-old New England Patriots running back said he would have surgery in about a month, after the swelling subsided, and that he plans to "rehab my butt off" before deciding if he will try to return for a 13th NFL season.

"I got the question asked to me by my son when I got home Monday, 'Is that it for me?,'" Faulk said. "I said 'Son, I'm going to do my best to rehab and see what happens from there.'"

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, for one, isn't counting Faulk out.

"Kevin will come back. He's come back from everything in his life," Brady said Wednesday.

Faulk was knocked out of Sunday's loss to the New York Jets in the fourth quarter after an 8-yard run.

"When I got hit, I kind of knew I had done something to it," Faulk said. "It didn't feel normal."

[+] EnlargeKevin Faulk
Alan Maglaque/US PresswireKevin Faulk, 34, isn't ruling out a return next season, saying he was going to "rehab my butt off" before deciding whether to play in 2011.

Losing Faulk is a tough blow to the Patriots, who traded running back Laurence Maroney to the Broncos last week. Faulk has played more snaps than any Patriots running back in each season since 2007, because he is the team's "passing" back who is most often on the field in three-receiver sets. He had been targeted in the passing game 10 times this season, the fourth-highest total on the team, while also serving as quarterback Tom Brady's last layer of protection as a blocker. He had eight rushes for 45 yards and six receptions for 62 yards.

"I don't think you're going to find any one player to be a duplicate of Kevin Faulk," coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "When we lost Tom [Brady] in the beginning of the '08 season, Matt [Cassel] came in and we won 11 games. We weren't the same team but we found a different way than the way we had won the year before. I don't think we're going to find one player to be a carbon copy of Kevin Faulk. I don't think that exists. I don't think that's really realistic. As a team, we just have to find ways to be efficient, be productive, move the ball, and score points, even if he's not in there. It will be a challenge, but that's what we need to do."

Brady also thought it was going to be hard to replace Faulk.

"Very few guys have played over the years as well, and consistently, and at such a high level as Kevin," Brady said. "He's been one part of this offense that has been so dependable for us, so reliable. There is nobody like him. He is such a unique person, and unique talent, and has a unique spirit about him. He always provides great leadership, so it's a great loss for us. Knowing what he's going through, it's always a challenging time. When you love football as much as Kevin does, or love the team as much as Kevin does, he takes it to heart that he can't be out there with us. It's an unfortunate injury. We have to move forward."

With Faulk out, an added onus is placed on remaining running backs Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the recently acquired Danny Woodhead.

"I'm upset for my teammates ..." Faulk said. "As a football player, as a competitor, you want to be there, you want to be on the field. In our group, everybody didn't have a chance to play a whole lot. That's' just the way it goes. I'm gone now. I'm not going to be here for the year. Other guys have to step up -- Sammy [Morris], BenJarvus [Green-Ellis], Fred [Taylor], [Danny] Woodhead is a guy we just signed. They have to step up. They have to do their jobs to help the team win."

Morris is the most likely candidate to take over Faulk's role going forward. He knows he has big shoes to fill.

"I'm not Kevin Faulk, per se. In that sense, no one is," Morris said Wednesday. "We all have to elevate our own games and do our part to help the team win."

Morris has been a back-of-all-trades in four seasons with the Patriots, sometimes lining up as a tailback, other times as a fullback, while also playing the pass-protecting role that Faulk is so good at on third down in the shotgun.

"I've done it, but obviously with Kevin, not as much," he said. "When coaches were coaching him up, I'm still listening to what's going on, so just like with everybody, you have to be ready."

Faulk is 5-foot-8, 202 pounds, while Morris is 6-feet, 220 pounds, which highlights their contrasting styles.

Morris stressed that Faulk is a "different type of back" than the Patriots' other players at the position, pointing to his open-field quickness, agility, shiftiness and knack for executing screen plays.

The two sat together on the flight home from New York.

"We talked the whole time," Morris said. "It's tough, not just as a teammate, but as a friend."

When the Patriots gathered for their morning meetings Wednesday, it didn't surprise many players that Faulk was in the room.

"I'm not sure how many guys would be in the building [like that]," Taylor said. "He was in the meetings, bright and early, sitting in his chair before anyone else. That's Kev."

Taylor expected Faulk to be there.

"That's a credit to him," he said. "He's like that when it's time to work out throughout the whole season. I see his truck every time I pull up. He's done 15 minutes on the Stairmaster as well as the sauna, before I get here, and I usually get here at quarter to seven. Meetings start at 8. He's always here bright and early."

Now in his second season in New England, Taylor has a new appreciation for Faulk.

"For the longest [time], I was trying to understand when I was on the outside looking in. I always knew he was a great player but I never understood why he would always be out there every single game, doing what he's done," he said.

"To his credit, he works at it. He really, really works at it. Nobody in the league compares to him. He's probably the No. 1 unsung hero across the entire NFL. He's probably one of the most underrated guys. He's the best at what he does."

Despite not being able to play, Faulk said he would stay with the team.

"Before the season, I was elected team captain," Faulk explained. "I was elected that for a reason. No matter what happened to me, I'll be here."

As expected, the Patriots put Faulk on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday.

"Kevin is a good football player. He's smart, he's tough, he has good running skills, good catching skills, he's a good decision-maker," Belichick said. "Most of all, I think he's very coachable and he really cares about the game, his teammates and his team. What is there not to like about Kevin Faulk?"

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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