Backfield is live with five
By Baxter Holmes
Globe Correspondent / August 13, 2008
FOXBOROUGH - NFL coaches are repairmen on the sidelines. They'll examine the situation, choose a play, and decide which players fit.
And in their 53-player toolbox, most coaches keep a featured piece of equipment at running back, such as a hammer that pounds into the defense or the screwdriver that is shifty all over the field.
The Patriots don't have such a hammer (Fred Taylor or Jamal Lewis) or screwdriver (LaDainian Tomlinson or Brian Westbrook), but rather five Swiss Army knives who can block, catch, run, and play special teams.
"That's our strength, the versatility," said Sammy Morris, an eight-year NFL veteran and second-year Patriot.
It would seem the five-headed backfield of Morris, newly acquired LaMont Jordan, Heath Evans, Laurence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk makes the team better, because coach Bill Belichick said yesterday he wouldn't rule out going with five running backs on the season-opening roster.
"We will keep the best football players, the ones that help our football team the most, whoever they are," Belichick said. "If we would keep four quarterbacks, I would think we could keep five running backs."
Belichick had four quarterbacks on the roster in 2000: Michael Bishop, John Friesz, Drew Bledsoe, and a rookie out of Michigan named Tom Brady.
One reason the Patriots would keep the five backs is because the blend of various skill sets and running styles has worked.
"They have all been effective for us in the past, or given the opportunity LaMont has had in his time here, he has shown to be effective," Belichick said. "Heath, Laurence, Sammy, Kevin, and LaMont have all been productive with the ball in their hands. Either running it or catching it and in some cases returning it."
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