If there's one player who's ended up in the Patriots fans' collective dog house over the past few seasons, it's Laurence Maroney. Bill Belichick isn't known for drafting running backs, so when he spends a 1st round pick on one, the expectations are going to be high. Maroney looked solid early on in his rookie season and many were counting on him to become a franchise back. Since then, though, it's been nothing but disappointment. Inconsistency and injuries have plagued Maroney's tenure with the Patriots, causing many to wish we could have a do-over on that 2006 first rounder.
Heading into the 2009 season, it seemed like Patriots fans had pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that their visions of grandeur for Maroney simply we're realistic. I had personally given up on hoping that he'd have his "break out" season, and found myself instead expecting him to just run hard and pick up enough yards to keep the offense flowing. It certainly wasn't everything I'd hoped for, but it was something that I could live with given the Patriots myriad of other strengths. However, the one thing I really did like about Maroney and felt that I could depend on him for, was the fact that he almost never fumbled the ball.
Yup, in the three seasons prior to 2009, Maroney fumbled the ball once. Last season he fumbled four times. All were lost. Two were at the goal line. One most certainly cost us the game vs. Indianapolis. Dog, meet house. When searching for baby Patriots gear with my wife for the upcoming DeROK Jr. I stumbled upon a "baby" Maroney jersey. She thought it was cute. I told her that there was no way I was buying that jersey, because "if he wears that, he'll probably drop his bottle". Needless to say, the humor was lost on her.
So Laurence Maroney certainly isn't going make the list of favorite Patriots any time soon, but is he on Bill Belichick's? As the supposed starter for this team, Maroney has carried the ball a mere eight times in three pre-season games and hasn't even played in the last two. Belichick explained away Maroney's lack of playing time against the Rams to the Patriots' lack of possession time. But still, one has to wonder why Belichick shyed away from his top back in a game where the Patriots desperately needed to prolong some of their drives.
Again, it's the pre-season. It means nothing. You really can't tell how things will turn out once the games actually matter Still, I can't help but wonder if Maroney has fumbled away his career with New England.