FOXBORO, Mass. — Everything is all right in Sammy Morris' eyes, as long as the Patriots fullback gets to take the field and hit some guys.
Morris' role has changed this year in New England. After compiling 314 rushes for 1,430 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Patriots — easily the most productive three-year stretch of his first 10 NFL seasons — Morris has been asked to switch to fullback.
The 33-year-old, who is in his 11th season, is also in the final year of his contract with the Patriots, but Morris doesn’t complain about that or his reduced carries.
"I've always tried to pride myself on being versatile," Morris said. "I think it's been like that through my whole career where it's been running back, fullback, third-down back, special teams. I've really tried to pride myself on that. I kind of just expect to be ready for anything, so I'm not surprised when you're put in a different situation."
Even without the carries — Morris has 14 rushes for 36 yards through 11 games — he is increasing his value in other areas. Morris made a key block to spring kickoff returner Brandon Tate for a touchdown earlier this season, and he's been a valued blocker when called upon in the offense.
And most strikingly, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears waxed poetic about Morris' leadership during positional meetings. That’s been especially significant this season because of the injuries to Kevin Faulk and Fred Taylor, who haven’t always been able to attend meetings due to their respective rehabilitation programs.
"It's a lot more about sharing some of the things that I've experienced," said Morris, who was too humble to say he's done anything different from his leadership position. "It's really just a matter of saying things that I've experienced things on the field against certain players or certain schemes, or the way our schemes and protections go against what we're seeing."
Morris noted the different dynamics between the two positions, with running backs looking to avoid contact and fullbacks seeking to hit everything in sight. But only one of those styles suits his game.
"I'm not really classified as a shifty kind of guy anyways," Morris said. "I'm always trying to be downhill, more seeking out contact than I avoid it anyway, so [playing fullback] fits in OK with me."
Morris said he didn’t really have one block that has particularly stuck out for him this season, but he's been pleased with his ability to go head-on with a linebacker before springing running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead for longer gains. Those are the only highlights he's needed.
"I just like to hit," Morris said. "They're all fun when I get a chance to hit somebody."
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