Faulk injury will force Patriots to dig deep

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss provided an in-depth analysis of why the loss of running back Kevin Faulk will be difficult for the New England Patriots' offense to overcome.

Multiple reports state Faulk is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.

Faulk wasn't just a hot target for Tom Brady on third down. Reiss, who tracks every Patriots play, points out no other New England back was on the field more than Faulk in each of the past three seasons.

Faulk also is an effective blocker. With Brady in the shotgun, Faulk often stands sentry and picks up blitzes. A decline in that role certainly increases the likelihood of quarterback hits and hurries. In one of the only two games Faulk has missed since 2006, Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard wrecked Brady's knee with a lunging hit.

Reiss speculates veteran Sammy Morris probably will step into Faulk's role and wonders if Faulk has played his last NFL down.

Faulk, 34, was on a one-year contract. Unless he can recover at Wes Welker warp speed, the Patriots might have a tough time bringing Faulk back.