With Lauren, I mean Laurence, Maroney done for the season, LaMont Jordan ailing, and Sammy Morris banged up, the Patriots' running back corps looks to be fairly depleted heading into Sunday's game against the suddenly resurgent St. Louis Rams.
Last week, we saw the Patriots rush for 257 yards, which is their biggest total since November of 1993. Granted, it was against the somewhat weak Broncos defense, but still impressive nonetheless. The Patriots have demonstrated several times this season that they can develop a run-first type of offense, 180-degrees away from their philosophy last season.
This week, the Patriots host the St. Louis Rams, whose defensive skills (or lack thereof) have been exposed so far this season. But with Lauren out, and Jordan's status unclear, they will have to establish a tempo for the running game early.
Luckily, there is even more depth at the halfback position than I thought, as evidenced by rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis' solid debut performance on Monday night.
Aside from having a name partially shared by other Patriots, Ben(Watson)Jarvus Green(duh)-Ellis(Hobbs) has had a successful college career and possesses skills the Patriots knew would help their system.
After leaving Indiana University, Green-Ellis transferred to Mississippi, where he was First Team All-SEC in 2006 and Honorable Mention All-SEC in 2007. Standing 5'11" tall and weighing in at 215 pounds, most NFL teams did not give him a look in the weeks leading up to the 2008 draft, and, despite of a strong combine, he was not drafted.
Realizing a solid player had gone undrafted, the Patriots used their keen judge of talent and signed him as a free agent on May 1. However, he still had a roller-coaster ride to the NFL. Waived by the team in August, Green-Ellis later found a role with the practice squad before becoming a member of the active roster on Oct. 11.
With Morris hurting after a strong first-half performance, the Patriots had no one else to go but Green-Ellis. Luckily for the rookie, they did not shy away from giving him the ball, as he rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the second half.
Clearly, Green-Ellis has shown that he can fit into the Patriots' system thus far, but he will have to show consistency to earn a regular spot in this offense.
Green-Ellis should get more carries than he anticipated, at least until Jordan comes back, but, until then, the youngster will prove his worth in the Patriots' newfound running game.