Only Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris Considered Locks in Patriots’ Backfield

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Heading into the last week of camp, the Patriots have six really tight positional battles to sort out before roster cuts, and the competition at running back might be the toughest to sort out.

Teams must be down to 53 players by Saturday, and New England’s most high-profile cut could come from the running backs. Let’s take a closer look at the backs on the bubble

Earlier this week, NESN.com listed 39 players who are already locked into a roster spot.

Who’s In: Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris

Who’s Out: Chris Taylor, Thomas Clayton

Bubble Watch: Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Bubble Analysis: It’s so hard to imagine them cutting Maroney, but he hasn’t taken a snap with the first-team offense all preseason, and he hasn’t played in a game since the opener against New Orleans. With that, you wonder, what exactly is his role on this team? He hasn’t missed a practice, so there doesn’t appear to be an injury. And there’s absolutely no reason to hold him out of preseason games for the sake of saving him for the regular season—after all, he was benched last season, so he needs reps, not rest.

Taylor has had a pedestrian-type of training camp, but he ran powerfully in Atlanta. The 34-year-old certainly showcased enough to make it look like he’s got enough in the tank for another season.

Green-Ellis has also had his opportunities and is an all-right back who won’t wow anyone with his speed but will be steady and reliable with his chances.

Wild Card: We’ve believed all along that the Patriots would only take four running backs into Week 1, which meant one of the five from last year’s unit would hit the chopping block. This theory is based on the cloudiness at the other positions, and the luxury of having five running backs might not be as affordable in 2010. However, head coach Bill Belichick could throw that theory out the window and carry all five players anyway.

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