Pats' Maroney Getting His Last Chance?

Mack McClurkanContributor IMarch 25, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - JULY 24:  Laurence Maroney #39 of the New England Patriots participates in a drill during the first day of training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 24, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Anyone remember the New England Patriots' 2006 season?

Back then, the Pats were using a power rushing offense instead of the "run-and-shoot" style they went to in 2007. They combined Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney to form one of the best one-two punches in the league at running back. Dillon was the thunder, and Maroney was the lightning.

Those were the days when Laurence looked like a future NFL star instead of an injury-plagued bust. Boy, do things change quickly in the NFL.

Maroney had a promising rookie year in '06 and was a Super Bowl starter in '07. Now, it looks like he might be unemployed in '09.

I think I might be one of the only Patriots fans left who isn't ready to chase this guy out of town. I actually believe he's a good player, but it seems he just can't handle injury. Whenever Maroney gets nicked, he becomes completely ineffective.

When he's healthy, it's a different story. During his rookie year, he managed to stay on the field and was arguably New England's most dangerous weapon that year. He was fit in the second half of the '07 season, and he was running over every defense the Pats played.

I don't know if it has something to do with Maroney's conditioning or other factors, but I do know this: It's a maddening trend for a player who once showed so much promise.

If Maroney can't stay healthy this season and hit the hole a little bit harder, then I think he's done in Foxboro. New England's stable now features Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so I question if Maroney will even make the roster this season. Either way, he's not gonna be a feature back in this upcoming campaign.

Maybe the change to coordinator Bill O'Brien will help salvage Maroney's career. It can't hurt his chances; the Patriots will probably try to be more balanced this year, with Brady coming off his knee injury.

I'm just not ready to give up on the former 21st-overall pick. I keep seeing flashes of the promise he showed in '06.

For Maroney's sake, he better show some more promise in '09. I'd like to hear anyone else's thoughts on Maroney.