FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Laurence Maroney knows he'll carry the
ball into the end zone eventually.
For now, the Patriots starting running back isn't complaining
that on a team with 46 touchdowns in nine games, he hasn't scored.
He's content to see Randy Moss and Wes Welker catch TD passes while
New England wins every game.
"They can't stop a star from shining," Maroney said Thursday,
"I feel like I'm going to get my chance sooner or later. It's just
not my time right now. I'm just going to play my role. I'm fine
As a rookie last season, Maroney split time with Corey Dillon
after being taken with the 21st pick of the draft.
This year, he shared the position with Sammy Morris. A chest
injury ended Morris' season after six games, so now Maroney and
Kevin Faulk are splitting the duties. In college at Minnesota, he
and Marion Barber alternated.
"I felt like it worked out fine," Maroney said. "It takes a
lot of pressure off both running backs. It still gives you a chance
to stay fresh."
He should be the featured back when the Patriots put their 9-0
record on the line Sunday night at Buffalo. He had his best
performance of the season against the Bills, rushing for 103 yards
in a 38-7 win Sept. 23.
But he never scored.
"You see the victories we have," he said. "As long as we keep
winning, I don't care if I never make it to the end zone."
The Patriots prefer to score through the air. Of their 46
touchdowns, 33 have come on passes by Tom Brady. Randy Moss has 12
scoring catches, Welker has seven and Benjamin Watson has five.
Even linebacker Mike Vrabel, who lines up at tight end in goal line
situations, has two.
Maroney figures he has more room to run because defenses pay
extra attention to the passing game.
"They focus more on the receivers, so when I do things, it's
like, `Oh, wow. Who was that? Oh, that's Maroney?" he said,
"instead of the expectation of me having to do a lot of things."
As a rookie, Maroney gained 745 yards with six touchdowns on 175
carries. Dillon picked up 812 yards on 199 attempts and scored 13
This year, Maroney is wiser.
"You just see him answer things differently in meeting time,"
fullback Heath Evans said. "I've seen him mentally grow quite a
He's strong and shifty and said he feels fine after missing
three games with a groin injury. He returned to play in the last
three before last week's bye and leads the Patriots with 417 yards
on 89 carries.
Maroney often changes direction rather than slam straight into
"A lot of folks always want to talk about how somebody runs,
but ask them, have they ever run the ball before?" he said of
critics of his style. "I feel like I shouldn't have to change
because one person feels like I dance too much."
Faulk scored his first touchdown in the Patriots' last game, a
24-20 win at Indianapolis. He's a valuable receiver, a role Maroney
is still learning.
But Maroney's running ability is "dynamic," Faulk said. "At
any point in time, one little crease and he can go the distance."
Maroney's longest run this season is just 19 yards, but there
are still seven games left before the playoffs. Three of them are
in Foxborough in December, with messier weather and a greater
reliance on the ground game more likely.
"When it's time for the running game to pick up the load and do
their thing," Maroney said, "I feel we'll be ready."