When RB Kevin Faulk re-signed with the New England Patriots, the only guy that seemed happier than Faulk was Bill Belichick. At first, it seemed as though as soon newly-signed players could practice, Faulk would be out on the field. However, Kevin Faulk has yet to suit and participate in practice. He has opened 2011 on the active/PUP list, meaning the Patriots can activate him at any time. Or, he could open the regular season on the PUP list and be held out for the first six weeks, after which the Patriots would have to make a decision on whether to activate or cut him.
Could the Patriots be purposely keeping Faulk on the shelf?
Kevin Faulk’s value to the team goes far beyond his on-field abilities. As anyone who watched Thursday’s preseason game could see, Faulk is an asset as a leader and almost functions as a player-coach. Faulk greeted the running backs, namely rookie Stevan Ridley, virtually every time they came off the field and spoke with them on the sidelines. He can make significant contributions to the team without having to ever play a down.
The offensive backfield is one of the most crowded positions on the Patriots’ roster. If Faulk was not on the PUP list, they may have to make a very tough decision: cut him or cut one of the very promising young backs. They can delay that decision into the regular season and still benefit from Faulk’s leadership in the locker room. During that time, it’s possible that there could be an injury at the position, making it an easy decision to activate Faulk. If not, they’ll have to wait and see how the depth turns out and the players play in the regular season, and then make a decision.
I’ll be surprised if Faulk is activated before the regular season, unless there’s a run of injuries at RB. In the meantime, the Pats have a locker room leader who won’t count against them for a while. It’s a smart move, if that’s their plan.