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Kevin Faulk analysis

While Kevin Faulk is considered by many to be a third-down running back, he has led all Patriots backs in playing time in recent years. He had a 38-percent playtime clip in 2009, as his expertise as a blocker and pass-catcher makes him a lead-type option when the Patriots are in spread formations.

While he's slowed down a bit of late, he remains productive. Faulk averaged 5.4 yards per carry last season, with 335 yards on 62 carries, while tying for fourth on the club with 37 receptions.

Faulk is a winner, often coming up clutch in the pressure moments. He also has became a go-to guy in times of adversity in recent years.

Given his production and the Patriots' focus on locker-room dynamics this offseason, bringing him back for a 12th season was a no-brainer. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports it is a one-year deal.

When looking at the team's running back group, it has some age with Faulk (33) joining Fred Taylor (34) and Sammy Morris (32) in the over-30 club. Laurence Maroney (25) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (24) are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

With this group returning, the Patriots won't be locked into selecting a running back in the draft. If they do, it would figure to be with 2011 in mind more than 2010.

Running backs playing time in 2009:

Kevin Faulk -- 38.8 percent

Laurence Maroney -- 30.9 percent

Sammy Morris -- 21.1 percent

Fred Taylor -- 12.1 percent

BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 11.1 percent