Chest injury places Patriots RB Morris on injured reserve

Updated: November 2, 2007, 7:28 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Sammy Morris

Morris

The New England Patriots' high octane offense suffered a rare hit on Friday when backup tailback Sammy Morris, the team's leading rusher, was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Morris, 30, suffered a chest injury in the Oct. 14 victory at Dallas and has been sidelined for the past two games.

Signed as an unrestricted free agent this spring, Morris won the job as the backup to starter Laurence Maroney, essentially replacing Corey Dillon on the depth chart. Dillon, the nominal starter in 2006, requested and was granted his release in the offseason.

In six appearances, including two starts, Morris carried 85 times for 384 yards and three touchdowns. He also had six receptions for 35 yards. Morris registered 100-yard outings in both starts in which he replaced an injured Maroney, rushing for 117 yards in an Oct. 1 win at Cincinnati and for 102 yards in an Oct. 7 victory over Cleveland.

It was obvious as early as minicamps that the versatile Morris, who has also played some at fullback in his eight-year career, provided the Patriots more flexibility than Dillon. A hard-working, blue-collar player, Morris also contributed on special teams.

The Patriots will likely now increase the workload of veteran back Heath Evans, who has seen his playing time increased in recent weeks. Kevin Faulk remains the third-down back and could also receive more carries now.

New England will probably wait until Saturday to replace Morris on the roster, and his spot could go to cornerback Eddie Jackson, a standout special teams player who began the season on the physically unable to perform list but who returned to practice two weeks ago.

A fifth-round pick of the Bills in the 2001 draft, Morris played for Buffalo (2001-2003) and Miami (2004-2006) before signing a four-year deal with New England. The former Texas Tech star has rushed for 1,853 yards and 17 touchdowns on 459 carries and has 118 receptions for 827 yards and one touchdown. He has appeared in 100 games, 25 of them as a starter.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.