|Veteran running back Kevin Faulk is excited about getting back on the practice field. (2010 File/The Boston Globe)|
They're set to perform
FOXBOROUGH - Kevin Faulk has 12 NFL seasons behind him, but he wasn’t prepared yesterday for the emotion of practicing for the first time this season.
Faulk and defensive linemen Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick came off the physically unable to perform list yesterday to practice with teammates. The Patriots did not have to make roster moves and have three weeks to add any of them to the 53-man roster.
After Sunday’s 20-16 victory over the Cowboys, Faulk learned his 2011 season would officially begin this week. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in September 2010, ending his season.
Just the news of returning to the field left Faulk bursting with excitement.
“I can say it’s been exciting, but not too much - I’m trying not to make it too much but people could tell,’’ Faulk said. “For instance I called my agent and after about five seconds of the conversation he was like, ‘you’re kind of excited, what’s going on?’ so I might have been a little excited. People could tell in my voice that I was excited about something that was going on.’’
Even though Faulk hasn’t been on the field, he has been around the team, traveling and standing along the sideline supporting the Patriots running backs. While on PUP, players can use team facilities to rehabilitate and sit in on meetings, but the waiting process is a long one.
Brace, a Worcester native, injured his elbow against the Bills last December and had offseason surgery to reattach his triceps tendon.
“There’s going to be frustration, you know, you see everyone out there making plays and I’m still [in the locker room] looking for that opportunity one day to make a play,’’ Brace said. “You’re so close, yet you’re so far. I’d say me staying focused on doing what I had to do is helping me out now. So staying focused on what I have to do is the only thing I can worry about right now.
“Just taking it day by day. Once I get out there and start hitting, that’s going to be the real test. That’s when I’ll really know how I feel.’’
Finding a spot on a crowded defensive line could be a challenge, Brace said. The situation creates more work for Brace, who is entering his third season. Brace played in 13 games last season and had 23 tackles.
While the Patriots are in the bye week, Brace said it is too soon to say if he will be ready to play against the Steelers Oct. 30. Getting back into a practice routine is Brace’s priority.
“That’s too far out for me,’’ Brace said. “After [yesterday’s] practice, I’ll be able to gauge myself, because it’s been since Dec. 26 since I had a helmet on out on the field, so I’ve got to start getting used to that again.’’
If Brace and Deaderick return, they would provide more depth for a veteran group of defensive linemen.
Offensively, the Patriots have an established veteran in Faulk, who has played his entire career in New England. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been leading the running backs, which includes Danny Woodhead and rookies Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
Faulk said he has been ready to play since the 2011 season started but he can appreciate why he had to wait.
“That’s me being a competitor, wanting to be out there with my teammates, wanting to be out there with my team,’’ Faulk said.