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Returning to football helps Faulk carry on

FOXBOROUGH -- Kevin Faulk, like anyone who has lost a parent, will never forget. While reflecting yesterday on his mother, Mary Vivian, who lost a five-year battle with leukemia last week at age 52, Faulk hopes to use her memory toward helping the Patriots win a third Super Bowl.

"It's amazing to see how much love there is out there," said the former LSU standout, who returned to his Lafayette, La., home for more than two weeks to be with his hospitalized mother.

He found out during that time how minuscule football is in the scope of life, yet he said, "If anything was going to pull me through this, it would be football."

Faulk was overwhelmed with well-wishers, including former high school, college, and pro teammates. He said he has received a call from former Patriots running back Antowain Smith almost every day. His teammates sent flowers and showered him with daily phone calls.

Faulk was also recuperating from a knee injury suffered in the second exhibition game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he was admittedly too wrapped up in his personal life to think about his injury.

He was limping slightly during yesterday's practice, and can rest during the bye week, but he offers no guarantee about playing next week in Buffalo.

"It's a day-to-day process," Faulk said. "I'm going to try to get back out there and help the team in any way I can. I feel pretty good, but that's me talking and that's totally different. You always want to get out there as quickly as possible whether you're in a little bit of pain or a lot of pain."

All Patriots players are trained to be vague when discussing injuries, but Faulk did offer a new twist to the "I am not a doctor" line favored by coach Bill Belichick.

"If I were a doctor I'd be working in some hospital," Faulk said. "You never can tell. You just go by what the doctor tells you. I've missed two weeks that the guys have had, so that's two weeks that I have to catch up on. I wish I could tell you when or if I'm going to be ready. I'm trying my best to get back on the field."

For a guy who's missed only 10 games in his five-plus NFL seasons, it's been tough for Faulk to sit back and watch. He said he never thought the Patriots would lose to Indianapolis or Arizona to start the season.

"Never," Faulk said emphatically. "I told my father right before the game that we were going to win."

"Every game that I watched when I wasn't there was real hard. But knowing your teammates have your back, that's a great blessing. I'm sitting down in a chair calling plays and I'm thinking I'm Tom Brady. I'm out but you've got Pat [Pass]. It's tough not being in there, and you don't want to let your team down, but you know the guys who are in there can do the job."

That's not to say Faulk hasn't been missed. Faulk is a change of pace from Corey Dillon, and is a receiving threat, especially on third down. He is battle tested, and has the perfect attitude for a Patriots player despite being drafted before Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli arrived in 2000.

Faulk said he was not surprised to see what Dillon has done because "he's been doing that throughout his career. Now you just give him the football to get him ready."

Taking his usual place in the locker room, and feeling the comforts as well as the challenges in his home-away-from-home have helped his grieving.

"They've been great," Faulk said of his teammates. "They've given me their blessing and supported me, but now it's back to business. It's not weird [being back] at all."

Faulk stood there yesterday and answered questions about an overwhelming time in his life. He called Mary Vivian, "the most important person in my life."

When asked why, he said, "Being there. Being there for me whenever I needed it."

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