Taylor ready to move forward, remain healthy


Taylor ready to move forward, remain healthy

By Rich Levine

FOXBORO The Patriots showed last Sunday that theyre more than capable of producing a solid ground game without the services of Laurence Maroney.

But with Maroney shipped to Denver earlier this week, the one area where the Pats running-back corps is most affected is depth. With one less proven, capable runner on the roster, it will be more essential than ever that the remaining backs stay healthy and on the field. Something thats obviously been an issue for New England's current No. 1 back Fred Taylor.

Over the course of his first 12 years in the league, Taylor developed the reputation as an injury-prone player. Not soft, but just a guy who, for one reason or another, tends miss at least a game or two every season. Hes only played all 16 games twice in his career, and last year missed 10 weeks because of ligament damage to his right ankle.

But this season, with Maroney now a mile high in Denver, the Pats can hardly afford to enter any Sunday with Taylor in street clothes. Obviously, Taylor understands this, but, as he noted Thursday, sometimes injuries are just the way of the NFL beast.

"The thing is," said Taylor, who led the Pats with 71 yards on 14 carries against the Bengals, "a lot of times people dont realize how brutal this game is that we play. I still always look back to the practice with the Saints when we was just walking through and a guy snapped his ACL. There have been other situations over the years. Jamal Anderson is another who sticks out in Atlanta. He was just running a swing route out of the backfield and popped his ACL . . . Injuries are apart of the game."

While he is, and hopefully continues to be, healthy, he knows what the Pats need and expect from him. And he doesn't expect that to change just because the teams now short one certified back on the roster.

"There's no extra pressure," Taylor said. "This is my job, this what I have to do, and I've been doing it for a while. The only pressure is the pressure we put on ourselves to come out and perform at a high level. So losing a back, Ive been through that situation times and times again, and thats never been something that would increase the pressure. Its me. If I put pressure on myself it would just be me wanting to do everything as close to perfect as I can."

When asked specifically about Maroney, a young back who Taylor took under his wing after joining the Pats, Taylor was brief, and made it clear he was ready to move on from the issue.

"He's fine. You always want to find a positive in any situation so speaking on Laurence, which is the last question, hes doing fine."

He's more focused on the guys who are still with the team and hopes that he, Sammie Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvis Green-Ellis, can take the field on Sunday and deliver the same balanced attack that helped bring home a W against the Bengals.

"I thought we did a pretty good job with getting all the backs involved," he said. "That came down from the coaching from above, and going into that we kind of knew it would be that way. It felt good for each one of us to get in there and not get cold on the sideline."

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'


Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial


PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

Quick Slants The Podcast is presented by Papa Gino’s.