FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots all-purpose running back Kevin Faulk has done nearly everything except grab headlines.
He finally made one this week and it brought him to tears: Torn Knee Ligament, Out For The Season.
Faulk, one of the team's most valuable players, said Wednesday he would have surgery in about a month. He left unanswered the question of whether he would play again after being hurt on Sunday.
"I got the question asked of me by my son when I got home on Monday. 'Is that it for me?' " the 12-year veteran said with a laugh. "I said, 'son ... I'm going to do my best to rehab and see what happens from there.' "
The 34-year-old Faulk was placed on injured reserve. He is the only Patriots player who was with the team when Bill Belichick became coach in 2000, ushering in an era in which injury information is guarded very closely. But Faulk was very forthcoming when he told reporters swarming at his locker that he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Then he lingered to discuss his feelings.
"I'm not sad anymore," he said. "I think when it first happened ... I was sad, cried a whole lot. But, hey, it's life. You've got to deal with it. You get knocked off the road sometimes. It's how you get back on and who you are as a person" that matters.
Faulk hurt his right knee less than two minutes into the fourth quarter of the 28-14 loss to the Jets when he ran wide to the left and was brought down near the New York sideline when cornerback Drew Coleman hit him on the knee. He lay flat on his stomach then slid his upper body up with both knees still on the ground as Patriots medical personnel rushed across the field.
He knew right away it was a bad injury.
"I think the frustration during the course of walking from their sideline to our sideline kind of showed a little bit," said Faulk, who threw his mouthpiece as he headed to his bench.
The Patriots, who traded Laurence Maroney to the Denver Broncos last week, are left with a depleted running back group of Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and newcomer Danny Woodhead to face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Taylor has gotten most of the carries, Morris seems best suited to Faulk's third-down role and Woodhead has been with the team less than a week after being cut by the Jets. He has Maroney's old locker and number 39 and drew a large crowd of reporters Wednesday.
"I was in New York for a couple of years and there's also media there," Woodhead said. "It's not something that I'm too worried about."
Faulk, Morris said, "is a different kind of back than all of us. I think he's, obviously, the more shifty. He's a great screen runner."
He's also an outstanding blocker who excels at picking up the blitz. He's a resourceful receiver with a nose for the first-down marker and the most productive kickoff returner in club history. He's unselfish and widely respected by his teammates and coaches.
His statistics — 44 starts in 154 regular-season games, no 100-yard rushing games, a career single-game high of only two touchdowns — don't draw much attention. And he's only 5 feet 8.
"It doesn't matter what anybody else says," Faulk said. "My coaching staff, players that I've played with, they know what type of football player I am. They know what type of person I am and how hard I'm going to go out there and play for you."
Tom Brady knew he could depend on Faulk to protect him and catch key passes.
"Very few guys over the years have played as well and consistently at such a high level as Kevin," Brady said. "There's nobody like him. He's such a unique person, a unique talent, a unique spirit about him. (Kevin) always provides great leadership, so it's a big loss for us."
Brady tore knee ligaments in the 2008 opener and returned in 2009 to have an outstanding season. Wide receiver Wes Welker made a speedy recovery after tearing a knee ligament in the regular-season finale on Jan. 3 and scored two touchdowns in this year's opener.
"They all reached out to me," Faulk said.
When he arrived as a second-round draft pick out of Louisiana State, the Patriots were three years removed from a Super Bowl loss. They were 8-8 in his rookie year and 5-11 in 2000, Belichick's first year. But they won the championship the next season.
"I think I'm pretty lucky that he was here when I got here," Belichick said. "He's smart. He's tough. He's got good skills, good running skills, good catching skills. He's a good decision maker. Most of all, I think he's very coachable and really cares about the game, his teammates and his team. What's there not to like about Kevin Faulk?"
Faulk will wait for the knee swelling to subside, have surgery and start rehabilitation.
"I'm going to rehab my butt off and see what happens, let my body tell me," Faulk said. "I've been fortunate enough to play football for over 20 years so far without an ACL injury. Like a lot of people told me, I've been blessed."