Sources say there is some concern for the Patriots that running back Laurence Maroney will not be ready to go when the teams training camp starts next month. Maroney is still on the road to recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, and this last week at the team’s mini-camp his participation was limited. Maroney stated he feels he is on schedule to be ready to go in camp on July 27th. “Everything is looking on pace to me,” he said to the Boston Herald. “I don’t have a projection, I’ll be out there hopefully. Until then, I’m going to work hard every day to get better.”
Maroney is being counted on as the stud back for a team that has already been penciled in as the AFC rep for the Super Bowl in many experts eyes. He has no real competition behind him, as his shadow last year in Corey Dillon is gone after Dillon requested and got his release earlier this year. Maroney feels he can, no pun intended, shoulder the load on his own. “I still don’t feel with Corey being gone and me moving up to the starting running back that the pressure is going to be on me,” he said. “We still have 10 other people on this (offense) that are going to have to carry the load. I’m going to have to carry my part and we’re all going to come together and put it together as a team effort.” That is of course if Maroney is on the field.
The team has yet to go out looking for someone that may have to step in for Maroney, as the team has not contacted the highest profile free agent back on the market still in Chris Brown. If the shoulder injury continues to keep him out, you can bet the team is going to start keeping their eyes open for Brown or another back who can step in. The other concern with Maroney has to be if he can be the feature back for a whole season. Last year he ran hard, but started to falter late in the year, and in the teams playoff games ran for just 87 yards on 31 carries, a 2.8 yards per carry average.
For now, the team will continue to put out Maroney’s backups in hopes of them carrying the load. Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk, and Sammy Morris are all getting carries right now while Maroney continues to recover. “Just having those guys around and just having their knowledge, because that’s a lot of year there put together, (Kevin), Heath, and Sammy, I’m still learning from them,” Maroney said. So while the Pats remain the favorite in the AFC, that status will be in question greatly if Maroney misses any amount of camp or preseason playing time due the recovery to his shoulder.