They were obviously able to forge ahead without their always-reliable running back, but Faulk remained in the locker room throughout the year, holding his own leadership role in high regard. Faulk hasn't said for sure whether he'll return for a 13th season, but it certainly looks like he'll make an attempt.
After the Patriots drafted a pair of running backs in April, though, is Faulk's roster spot still secure?
Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Thomas Clayton will be among the running backs who are battling for four or five roster spots.
Why He'll Make the Team
Because he's Kevin Faulk, and it's as simple as that. Before last season's ACL tear, Faulk was working on a streak of three consecutive seasons with at least 600 yards from scrimmage, which was the only time he's done that in his career. He's one of the best third-down backs of his generation, and his reliability on punt returns is extremely important in Bill Belichick's eyes. Plus, the Patriots have four young running backs on the roster, and it would be beneficial to keep Faulk around as a mentor so he can show them how to properly prepare throughout the week to get ready for a game.
Why He Might Not Make the Team
At 35, it's no guarantee Faulk could make a complete recovery from his injury, and that could jeopardize his playing time. Belichick, in turn, could ask Faulk if he wants to spend his final season as the fifth back on the depth chart, or if he'd prefer to ride off in the sunset after a fine career.
One other thing to keep in mind: After drafting Ryan Mallett, the Patriots will likely carry three quarterbacks this season — one more than the previous two seasons — because there's no chance Mallett will make it through waivers and land on the practice squad. Therefore, the roster spot will have to come from somewhere. That's not to say Mallett will cost Faulk a job, but again, the roster spot has to come from somewhere.
This will almost certainly be Faulk's decision. If Faulk is physically able to play, Belichick will carry five running backs because Faulk will be able to help the team. And based on Faulk's high spirits during his attendance at the Patriots' three-day workout in June at Boston College, Faulk looks like a guy who is ready for his 13th season.
Every day through Aug. 1, Jeff Howe will spotlight one player who could potentially be on the Patriots' roster bubble.
Tuesday, July 19: Defensive lineman Ty Warren
Thursday, July 21: Defensive lineman Ron Brace