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Green-Ellis states case for a position

By Chris Forsberg
Globe Staff / September 4, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Leave it to a guy they call the “Law Firm’’ to know how to make a closing argument.

Second-year running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis solidified his claim for a spot on New England’s final 53-man roster by rushing for 125 yards on 29 carries and scoring three touchdowns as the Patriots rallied for a 38-27 win over the New York Giants in their exhibition finale last night at Gillette Stadium.

Green-Ellis, whose moniker stems from his multipart name, didn’t know exactly how much time he’d be given to make a final statement. So, he introduced plenty of convincing evidence, whether it was Exhibit A: dragging a would-be tackler into the end zone on the go-ahead touchdown (on 4th and goal with under six minutes left) or Exhibit B: breaking free on a 32-yard touchdown jaunt later on.

“I wasn’t sure how many reps I was going to get tonight,’’ said Green-Ellis. “I just went out and tried to play every play and do my job.’’

Despite some hard-nosed running in last year’s exhibition finale against the Giants, Green-Ellis was among the team’s final cuts. The undrafted free agent out of Mississippi landed on the Patriots’ practice squad and, when Laurence Maroney’s season ended because of a shoulder injury, Green-Ellis joined the active roster and appeared in nine games (with three starts).

Now, with a seemingly healthy running back corps (though Sammy Morris has been limited), Green-Ellis could once again be a victim of the numbers game when final cuts are announced tomorrow.

Asked if Green-Ellis did enough to make the roster, Belichick replied: “We’ll make all our roster decisions here in the next couple days. But, BenJarvus does a lot of things for us - going back to last year.’’

But Green-Ellis made it mighty tough for New England to wave goodbye again.

“I’m never nervous, especially about something that’s out of my control,’’ said Green-Ellis. “I’m not thinking about it.’’

Despite that confidence, Green-Ellis wanted to see the tape of last night’s game before lauding his own performance.

“Personally, I never get complacent about anything,’’ said Green-Ellis. “You can always try to improve, get better. I’d be lying if I sat here and told you I did OK. No one’s going to have a perfect day, you can always have things to get better at.’’

Here’s what Green-Ellis has working in his favor: a team-best 249 yards rushing on 49 carries (for a remarkable 5.1 yards per carry) this preseason. On the flip side, he’d surely like to get back the late-game fumble during Cincinnati’s 7-6 win at Gillette Stadium that probably cost the Patriots a perfect preseason.

But he’s grateful for each day he puts on the No. 42 jersey. As wide receiver Robert Ortiz said about upcoming roster cuts: “It’s not every day you get to play for the New England Patriots, so I’m just going to enjoy it. Hopefully it works out in the end.’’

Pundits will point to the fact that most of Green-Ellis’s rushing total - and all of his touchdowns - came after the Giant’s first teamers departed what’s often dubbed a “meaningless game.’’

“A lot of people don’t play football,’’ Green-Ellis shot back. “I love to play football and I like to go out there and compete. That’s what I do. When I go out there, I always have fun with it. Preseason, practice, whatever. I just like to play football.’’

After joining the active roster last season, Green-Ellis had a rushing touchdown in four straight games starting in Week 6. But his workload diminished late in the season, to the point where he did not have a touch in the final four weeks. This year he’s worked hard to find a role on special teams and make himself even more valuable.

Despite his impressive final performance, the defense - umm, offense - doesn’t plan to rest.

“Actually, I feel pretty good now,’’ said Green-Ellis. “I’ll probably come in here tomorrow, lift weights, work out, and do the things I always do.’’

Chris Forsberg can be reached at cforsberg@boston.com.

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