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The Patriots have not been a big two-back team the last few years, instead spreading the field with three receivers and using a single running back.
When the team has called on two-back sets, fullback Heath Evans was most often the lead blocker. Offensive lineman Russ Hochstein was also a power-package fullback option late in 2008.
With Evans now in New Orleans and Hochstein now in Denver, how have the Patriots filled his void?
In the season opener, running back Sammy Morris served as the lead-blocking fullback. Morris was on the field for four plays in that role and here were the results (stats don't include one time Morris motioned out of the backfield into a receiver, or two other times he was lined up as a single back):
3 yard run (Fred Taylor, on second-and-10)
0-yard run (Laurence Maroney, on fourth-and-1)
1-yard run (Fred Taylor, second-and-10)
1-yard TD run (Fred Taylor, first-and-goal)
There was disappointment in not being able to convert the fourth-and-1 on the fourth play of the game. On the flip side, Taylor's 1-yard touchdown run came with Morris as a lead blocker, as he had a nice block on safety Bryan Scott.
Morris (6-0, 220) was occasionally used in the lead-blocking role last year. In some ways, it takes him back to his roots.
"Technically, that's what I was drafted to do," said Morris, who was a fifth-round selection of the Bills in 2000. "But I ended up being a tailback. It was the same thing when I signed with Miami [in 2004]. I was supposed to be a fullback but ended up switching there too."
Although he didn't have a carry in Monday's season-opener, Morris could still factor into the Patriots' running back mix. He said he's happy to do whatever it takes to help the team win.