FOXBORO, Mass. — If the Patriots activate running back Kevin Faulk for Sunday's game against the Steelers, he said it won't be because they need help in pass protection.
"Danny [Woodhead] has been doing it. [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] been doing it," Faulk said. "They've done a wonderful job doing it, so it's about the team. But at the same time, it's about you being smart about what's going on."
The latter part of Faulk's reasoning had to do with his own health and whether or not he'd be at full strength after just six practices. Faulk, who has been on the PUP list all season, ran through a strenuous workout regimen before he was permitted to start practicing last week, so it's not like he went from the street to the field.
"[It's the] next step in the progression," Faulk said. "When you're in the situation, as a competitor, you want to be out there, but the situation calls for you to be on PUP. So you try to do as much as possible to keep your mind off of being out there, but at the same time, doing what you have to do to be ready once you go out there."
It wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots activated Faulk for the first game in which he's eligible to come off the PUP list. Bill Belichick did it with left guard Logan Mankins after he signed his tender last season, and the head coach started right guard Brian Waters in Week 1, just seven days after he joined the team.
Faulk has understood of the recovery process and the road it would entail during the 2011 season. Now, he knows he's in the last phase, and he's "excited" to finally get back onto the field. Still, he's just waiting on the word from Belichick, who will ultimately determine whether or not Faulk is healthy enough to contribute to Sunday's game plan.
"You could feel like you want [to play], but if it doesn't fit with what's going on upstairs or with the coaches, then it doesn't even matter," Faulk said. "At the beginning of the season, yeah, I felt good. I felt like I was ready to go out and practice. But at some point in time, you've got to listen to what your coaches are saying. They've been doing it for a long time. They understand. They've been around certain injuries and areas of football."