In this morning's paper, my On Football column piggybacks Shalise's news story on Kevin Faulk's torn right anterior cruciate ligament, that could well end the 12-year veteran'ss career. And in there, I have takes from a couple experienced pro scouts from NFL clubs on the impact of the loss to the Patriots.
"Heís the kind of player that, when you lose a guy like him, heís one of those guys you save roster spots with," said this scout, from an AFC club. "By having him, you maybe need one less guy somewhere else. Well, now, you may have to replace him with more than one player because of all the different things he has to do. Itís difficult. ...
"He was the ultimate, and thatís why he stuck around there for so long. When you do so many things well Ė and maybe you can say he did nothing great but a bunch things well Ė thatís such a valuable player for any club."
This scout's take fell kind of in the middle of the two aforementioned ones -- one of which said his loss was akin to losing a Wes Welker, the other of which said that the Patriots would find a way to replace him. He thinks, knowing the New England organization that, "surely at 34 years old, they wouldíve said, ĎWeíve got to be prepared for life after Faulk.' "
The trouble, as he said, is how many guys it takes to replace a Faulk. The answer almost always seems to fall at "a few".
For example, maybe Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead are capable with the ball, but can either be trusted in pass pro? Probably not, which means you have to have an additional player handling that stuff.
No matter how you slice it, the Patriots just got a little easier to defend on third down.
"Heís an instrumental part of their offense," said the scout. "He was a guy we worried about quite a bit because of the mismatch he creates Ė such a good receiver, such good ball skills, and a good route-runner as well. We felt like the guy could line up at running back and if you motion him out of the backfield, heís just as dangerous. Just a very versatile player. You canít find guys like that, who can help you in both phases of the game. ...
"Third-down situations, he was always a guy that just found a way to move the chains, he had a knack for that. But in addition, he had a real good knowledge of pass protection. Just his ability in pass protection and the passing game, itís just something you canít replace. And I guess they werenít intending to replace him, thatís why they kept him around."