When Kevin Faulk was listed as a game day inactive for the Monday night season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 9, no one could have predicted the type of successful season the running back would have. But after that initial game on the sidelines, Faulk was not only active for the final 15 games of the season, he became an integral part of the Patriots. Faulk's contributions to both the New England offense and special teams came to be key factors in the team's overall production.
The fourth-year running back out of LSU finished the season with number totals that although not hugely impressive, don't sufficiently quantify the unique impact the 5-8, 202-pound elusive open field runner had on the team. The former 1999 second round draft pick finished the season with 52 carries for 271 yards and two scores. In the passing game he caught 37 passes for 379 yards and another three touchdowns.
Faulk also had a huge impact and career-year in the return game. He finished second in the NFL with a 27.9 kickoff return average while returning 26 kicks for 725 yards and two touchdowns. He returned one 86-yards for a score at Oakland and the second 87 yards against the Jets at Gillette Stadium. In the course of his returns he also became the Patriots all-time kickoff return leader with 136 career returns for 3,146 yards.
Faulk also showed his diverse depth and talents as the helped pick up the slack in the punt return game where he returned eight punts for 65 yards and also had four fair catches. On the season he touched the ball a total of 123 times for 1,440 yards of total production and seven touchdowns. He averaged 11.7 yards per touch of the pigskin and finished tied for second on the team in scores with those seven touchdowns.
But as much as the totals of Faulk's stats show his versatility, his real contributions came through big plays such as the two kickoff returns. The hard working back also had a knack for making plays when the team needed them the most. Along with the big returns, Faulk had a 45-yard scoring run on a backward dump pass from Tom Brady at Buffalo as well as a key 36-yard reception on a screen pass from Brady the following week at Chicago. He also had five separate plays of more than 20 yards on the season.
And while the humble back from Louisiana may have grown generously into his role as a third-down or change-of-pace back, he remained focused in his duties. He knew that his success came through hard work and that just has had been the case early in the year he could have been just as easily an afterthought as he was an injection of momentum.
ards on eight rushes, 70 yards on nine receptions, and 104 yards on four kickoff returns.
"I enjoyed the opportunity this season to be a featured part of the offense. When I get an opportunity to be one-on-one with a linebacker I have to be able to make those plays," Faulk said to his success in the short passing game.
"I am a role player. I backup Antowain [Smith] and spell him when he needs it. When I get in the game I just try to help the team in any way that I can."
And while the season results for the team may not have been exactly what Faulk and his teammates would have liked, he did do pretty much all he could. As a role player with a unique combination of skills Faulk became the spark that the Patriots needed on numerous occasions throughout the 2002 season.
An omission was made in yesterday's update as to the Patriots total number of draft picks. The team actually has a total of 11 picks, not 10. New England has a pick in all seven rounds of the draft, as well as multiple picks in the first, fourth, fifth and seventh rounds. … While the players are away the staff at Gillette Stadium is taking advantage of the opportunity to do some up-keep type work on the facilities. For example, on Wednesday the dumbbell racks in the weight room were given a fresh coat of paint. … All the Patriots assistant coaches and many of the team's scouts are busy in Alabama scouting college players at the Senior Bowl practices this week. They will be in Mobile through Thursday. … Patriots owner Robert Kraft will host the "Community Quarterback Awards" luncheon at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. The ceremony will honor 13 community leaders from across New England who have "dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others." Through the program the Patriots Charitable Foundation and NFL Charities have teamed up to award $25,000 to local non-profit charities in the names of the deserving 13 selected volunteers. David Hanwell of Rehoboth, Mass. was selected for the first place award and will have a $10,000 donation made in his name to the Horace Mann Educational Associates (HMEA). The group volunteers its time and skills on nights and weekends to build/renovate/paint group homes to create additional living space, thereby helping disabled adults find safe, healthy living environments in group settings