Morris in it for long run
As he enters 11th season, the plan is to carry on
FOXBOROUGH — Patriots running back Kevin Faulk didn’t want to hear anything about retirement while he went through contract negotiations after last season.
After Faulk signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, he told reporters retirement wasn’t a consideration. A running back faces an uphill battle of proving his ability once he reaches 30 years old. The average age of running backs who had at least 100 carries last season was 25 when the season began.
The Patriots have three running backs over 30 on their roster. Faulk will be 34 in June. Sammy Morris turned 33 last week. Fred Taylor turned 34 in January. The youth is represented in Laurence Maroney, who turned 25 last month, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who will be 25 in July.
As the Patriots participate in offseason workouts, Morris said, he doesn’t feel old. As Morris enters his 11th season, he said he has picked up tips along the way to help him with longevity.
“I think it’s kind of something that you should learn along the way or something you could learn along the way,’’ Morris said. “I’ve played with a lot of guys, not just running backs, who have played for a long time, so it would be foolish of me not to take something from everybody across the board.’’
As a unit, the group proved last season they could do the job. The Patriots ranked 12th in the league with 120.1 rushing yards per game.
“You’ve got a lot of guys that do a lot of things well that are complements for each other,’’ Morris said. “I think we’ve got a good group and I think it helps us out a lot as far as keeping us fresher and having to step in with injuries, which is part of the game.’’
An ankle injury kept Taylor out most of the season, and Morris missed four games with a knee injury. Morris ended the year with 319 yards on 73 carries.
When the group is healthy, Morris said, sharing carries helps with longevity for everyone.
“Even for a younger guy, I don’t think that they could just continue to take the pounding like that, especially in a physical position,’’ he said. “But that plays a factor, and after that, the onus is on us to take care of ourselves.’’
Diet and conditioning play a large part in staying fit, and Morris isn’t ready to put a timetable on his career just yet.
“I just keep going and going,’’ Morris said. “I don’t want to get to the point where I can say I can play two more and shut it down after two, when I actually could go more. I’m just going year to year, and right now I still feel pretty good.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.