On a pretty good run
Patriots’ Green-Ellis keeps going forward
FOXBOROUGH - Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounds out answers to questions with a staccato rhythm, slim on elaborate responses. His no-nonsense approach usually limits any emotion, but he broke from form yesterday.
Green-Ellis listened to the beginning of a question about resting during the bye week.
“For somebody like you, a running back, who takes a lot of pounding . . .,’’ the reporter began.
Green-Ellis interrupted. “I don’t take a lot of pounding.’’
“Well, you deliver it,’’ the reporter said.
“All right,’’ Green-Ellis responded with a sly smile.
Green-Ellis can deliver a little bit of a surprise here and there, but he has remained a steady contributor for the Patriots in his fourth NFL season. When he looks around the locker room, the only other running back still around from his rookie season in 2008 is veteran Kevin Faulk.
When Green-Ellis arrived as a rookie free agent and later became a practice squad addition, not many expected he would be the guy to outlast 2006 first-round draft pick Laurence Maroney, who is without an NFL team this season.
Green-Ellis is in his second season as one of the primary backs for the Patriots. He leads the team with 391 rushing yards (91 carries) and five touchdowns. He also understands the fluidity of the NFL.
When Faulk returned to practice last week after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury, Green-Ellis appreciated seeing a familiar face.
“Most of the guys that I came in with aren’t here anymore,’’ Green-Ellis said. “It’s nice to see somebody [like Faulk] back out there. We can’t replace his veteran leadership. With some of the things he’s known from playing for 13 years, he always has those little pointers and things like that.’’
Faulk and Green-Ellis are both natives of Louisiana, and in the last four seasons, Faulk said he has watched Green-Ellis establish himself.
“I’ve been around Benny every day,’’ Faulk said. “We’re in the same meeting room. We’re from the same state. We know a lot of the same people.
“Our relationship is probably different than any other person on this football team. I’ve seen him grow and seen him mature and become a better football player. He’s always been a good football player, but he’s a better football player.’’
During the bye week, Green-Ellis also caught up with Fred Taylor, who played with the Patriots in 2009-10. One of the topics of conversation was deciphering the Pittsburgh defense.
The Steelers defense is ranked third in the NFL, allowing an average of 279 yards a game. However, Steelers opponents have found some success on the ground, rushing for an average of 107.1 yards a game.
“Year in and year out, the Steelers have a good defense,’’ said Green-Ellis, “and you can’t have too many mistakes, especially with us being on the road, so we have to go down there and play one of our best games.’’
Last season, Green-Ellis rushed for 87 yards on 18 carries in a 39-26 victory against the Steelers at Heinz Field. For the season, Green-Ellis collected career highs in yards (1,008), carries (229), and touchdowns (13) as he and Danny Woodhead handled the rushing duties after the Patriots traded Maroney to Denver and Faulk was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Faulk was removed from the physically unable to perform list last week, and if he is added to the 53-man roster, it would increase depth at the position.
“Whatever Kevin brings to the table is helpful for us,’’ Green-Ellis said.
As the Patriots resume their regular-season schedule, Green-Ellis said, he hasn’t time to reflect on his career. He appreciated the bye week, but he isn’t slowing down to think about his achievements.
“I’m always too busy moving forward to have a chance to look back and have one those reflection moments,’’ Green-Ellis said. “It’s always on to next game. You don’t have much time in this league to sit back and reflect on what’s happened.’’