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Trickle-down effect of Maroney deal

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the trickle-down effects of the Patriots trading Laurence Maroney is that third-year running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis should now be active for games on a weekly basis.

Green-Ellis played in nine games as a rookie in 2008, with three starts. He finished that season with 75 carries for 275 yards (3.7 avg.) and five touchdowns.

Last season, he played in 12 games, with most of his work coming on special teams. He had 26 carries for 114 yards (4.4 avg.).

In trading Maroney, the Patriots seem to be giving a strong vote of confidence to Green-Ellis as the fourth option on the running back depth chart behind Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk.

"I think Benny has improved a lot," coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday when asked what he's seen from Green-Ellis since he arrived as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi in 2008. "He was a good player when he got here, [had] a couple 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC, [a] very productive player. He's improved in his blitz pickup. He could always run the ball and he can still run the ball. He gets a lot of positive yardage. But I think his big improvements have come in the passing game.

"He’s been a good special teams player for us," Belichick continued. "That’s improved a little bit each year. I think this has certainly been his best year in the kicking game, both on the coverage and the return teams. There are not a lot of backs that are as good all-around players as he is. I think he brings a lot to our football team in both phases of the game. Again, he’s worked really hard to improve in the passing and the kicking game aspects of his particular game."

In Sunday's season-opening win over the Bengals, Green-Ellis had five carries for 22 yards (4.4 avg) and played on the kickoff return unit, punt coverage unit, and punt return unit.