The Patriots put captain and fan favorite Kevin Faulk on the injured reserve, ending his season. Everyone loves Faulk and he's easily everyone's favorite team player since Troy Brown. It's always sad to see a great player end his season early, the Patriots need to adjust and move on. Faulk is another player on the laundry list with "season ending injuries", alongside Ty Warren, Leigh Bodden and Brandon McGowan. The Patriots must overcome the loss of the best third down back in the league, or else they'll be in for a season of struggle.
Two things come from this news: Who must step up on offense and the locker room to replace the empty spot left by Kevin Faulk, and who gets his actual roster spot?
On offense, while Tom Brady gets all the praise for being a leader, Faulk provided the fire for the offense. Brady and Randy Moss must now step up and bring the energy to the offense because no other players carry as much clout as those two. Wes Welker is a great leader, but he's not a rah-rah kind of guy. Other players are too young to lead, or too new to the team. Or too offensive line. There's no one who can replace what Faulk brought to the locker room and to the sideline- but Moss and Brady need to bring as much as they can.
Faulk also brings a lot to the table on the field as an offensive player. Who must step up to pick up some of the slack? Fingers immediately point to new acquisition Danny Woodhead, but it'd be irrational to expect him to perform at such a high level and meet such high expectations after just joining the squad. This replacement must be a team effort. Look for Aaron Hernandez to become a big target on 3rd down, alongside Welker. Julian Edelman is a player who can be a threat out of the backfield and Sammy Morris is a running back who can handle some of the running and blocking jobs. Everyone must step up, but no one can really replace Faulk.
Speaking of replacing Faulk, who gets his roster spot?
Let's look at some potential players after the jump!
RB Javarris James - The clear cut favorite is James, a running back who performed well enough at the University of Miami up until his graduation this past year. He's built to be a committee back, being able to run the ball well and catch the ball out of the backfield. He came from the Indianapolis Colts cutting room floor, but has been described:
He has shown flashes of toughness, determination, and rushing skills all throughout camp and preseason. Plus, it's just kind of cool to see yet another member of the James family make it to the NFL on a Colts roster. Baby J most certainly is not Edge. He doesn't have his talent. But, Javarris did not show up and simply let his family name carry him. He worked hard. He played tough. He showed he can take hits and fall forward.
So he may not be the best back, but that's behind the Colts offensive line. Perhaps he'll be able to flourish out of the Patriots backfield- and I'd love to see him get the chance.
OLB Shawn Crable - We can dream, can't we? With our outside linebacker committee down to Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham, depth is scarce. Perhaps Crable can come up and help out? He most likely won't start, but he plays a position of need and would help the team.
G Logan Mankins - Speaking of dreaming. Yeah? The offensive line has been excellent, but, yeah? Maybe? No? Yeah. I don't think so, but stranger things have happened.
CB Shawn Springs - The secondary needs some help and veteran leadership. Springs can provide the former.
CB Ty Law - He's old, but he can play nickel and he was a great Patriot. Perhaps he could show the young cornerbacks how to play defense.
RB Ryan Moats - He's a free agent who can run the ball. He has some trouble with fumbles, but could be a solid #4 running back.
RB Tatum Bell - See Moats. Fumble issue, but can still handle the ball. Could be our LaMont Jordan 2.0.
I'm pulling for Javarris James and Shawn Crable. I'm feeling the Patriots might pull off another trade to bring a veteran to the team and utilize a late round draft pick as bait.
Who would you want to see take the last roster spot?