Kevin Faulk was slow to get up from a low tackle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets. After the game, Faulk was seen in the locker room, eyes apparently red from crying.
He didn’t speak to the media after the game, as if he had a bad feeling about the hit he took.
Faulk’s premonition proved true as tests revealed he has a torn ACL and is done for the season. For the 12-year veteran, it’s unknown if this injury is something Faulk will bounce back from.
It’s not a question of if for Faulk. The Patriots saw QB Tom Brady make a full recovery from 2008’s reconstructive surgery. And just this off-season WR Wes Welker smashed all expectations by coming back in just six months from his torn ACL.
Doctors can fix Faulk up good as new in time for the 2011 season. But after a dozen years in the league, Faulk might be tired of the brutal Sundays and may finally hang it up.
If this is the end for Faulk, it’s a disappointing way for the career Patriot to exit the game. Every player wants to leave the game on their own terms. Faulk was off to a productive start in 2010, but injuries can change minds.
To call Faulk a third down back doesn’t say enough of his contributions. He was a sure thing no matter what was asked of him. Like a pocket Leatherman for the offense, Faulk was a do-it-all tool that quarterbacks couldn’t appreciate enough because of how often Kevin came through.
Need a back to pick up the blitz? You can count on Faulk.
Looking for a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield? Kevin was your man.
Want a punt returner you can trust to make a fair catch in the red zone? You didn’t have to worry about Faulk.
In search of a crucial conversion on third and long? Whether through the air or on the ground, you knew Faulk would get it.
There wasn’t a player more effective at gaining yards on screen passes or draw plays out of the shotgun alignment. Faulk always read blocks correctly and quickly made his way upfield until he moved the chains. His ability to refresh the downs in any situation is what made Faulk so valuable to the Patriots.
How can a team put a value on a clutch player? Faulk never had a 100-yard rushing game. He has two career 100-yard receiving games. But those numbers mean nothing in comparison to the hundreds of first downs Faulk gained or contributed to by making key blocks.
Without Faulk, New England is precariously thin in the backfield. Faulk was the reliable veteran between himself, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. While Taylor and Morris missed 14 games combined last year, Faulk missed just three games in the last four seasons.
The Patriots signed WR/RB Danny Woodhead last week after trading Laurence Maroney to Denver. Woodhead takes Faulk’s roster spot, but he surely doesn’t replace what Faulk was to the Patriots.
Read Randolph Charlotin's New England Patriots blog at www.randolphc.com.