Camaraderie — Not Competition — Brewing in Patriots’ Backfield

Camaraderie -- Not Competition -- Brewing in Patriots' Backfield With the wealth of talent and experience in the Patriots' backfield, one might imagine things getting a bit testy as training camp starts to heat up.

Instead, Laurence Maroney has been taking advantage of the wisdom of Fred Taylor.

Maroney, who's struggled to stay healthy and has battled the "soft" tag since entering the league, can learn a lot from Taylor, who was once nicknamed "Fragile Fred" for too often ending up on the injury list.

"Everybody asked me, 'Are you upset they got Fred?' I looked at it as a blessing," Maroney told USA Today. "He's been through a lot [with] his frustrating injuries. [I've learned] how he took it, how he made it out of it, how he kept positive and is [now] labeled as one of the greatest backs to play the game."

Taylor said that he's happy to play the role of teacher.

"[Maroney] is a young guy who's definitely passionate about playing," Taylor told USA Today. "He reminds me of myself a little bit when I was younger and had to fight through the injuries."

Those injuries limited Taylor to playing in just 40 of 64 games in his first four seasons. Maroney, in his first three seasons, has played in 30 regular-season games out of a possible 48. Despite the early struggles, Taylor was able to recover and average 14 games per year over the next seven seasons, playing in 100 out of 112 games for the Jaguars.

In that span, Taylor made his mark as a top back in the league. In 11 seasons, he's rushed for more than 11,000 yards and 62 touchdowns and added more than 2,300 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

On this year's Patriots, Maroney and Taylor are joined in the backfield by Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Though some coaches would have trouble managing such depth, Bill Belichick seems to be welcoming the opportunity.

"They’ve all been productive. That would be the number one thing," Belichick said between practice sessions on Monday. "Each guy’s a little bit different. … The biggest measure [for a] running back is being able to gain yards with the ball in his hands, however you get it to him — throw it to him or hand it to him — and be accountable in blitz pickup and pass protection."

Though Belichick placed the importance of a running back on his production with the ball, Taylor could make an even bigger impact for the Patriots by helping to keep Maroney on the field.

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