Bill Belichick met the media for the first time since the team traded running back Laurence Maroney (and a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft) to the Broncos in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick next year. Maroney was never a 1,000-yard rusher, but led the Patriots in rushing yards for two of his four seasons.
“Just felt like it was the right time for us to move on,” Belichick said. “I have a lot of respect for Laurence, he came in, been here four years, worked hard, I think he’s improved a lot.
“I think he would have helped us this year, but we just felt like it was time to move on, we felt we got good value on the trade, so this is in the best interest of the football team. I’m sure he’ll do well for Denver. I think they got a good player and a kid that’ll work hard for them.”
Maroney’s departure leaves the Patriots with four running backs on the active roster: 34-year-olds Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk, 33-year-old Sammy Morris, and 24-year-old BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Belichick said a move will need to be made sometime this week, and it had been reported earlier today that the Patriots had promoted Javarris James from the practice squad. But neither James nor Belichick would confirm that.
Belichick did, however, talk about Green-Ellis and James.
On James: “I think he’s done a good job in the short time that he’s been here, had a good preseason, that’s why we brought him back to the practice squad.”
On Green-Ellis: “Benny’s improved a lot. He was a good player when he got here, had a couple of 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC (at Mississippi), but he’s improved in the passing game, improved in his blitz pickup. He could always run the ball and he can still run the ball, gets a lot of positive yardage, but I think his big improvements have come in the passing game and on special teams.
“He’s been a good special teams player for us, that’s improved a little bit each year. I think this has certainly been his best year in the kicking game, both on the coverage and the return team. There’s not a lot of backs that are probably as good all-around players as he is, he brings a lot to our football team in both phases of the game.”
With it being Jets week (the Patriots visit Sunday), Belichick was asked if he learned anything about the team from watching any of the “Hard Knocks” episodes on HBO.
“No, I’d say not too much,” he said. “I think our game plans will be formulated by what we feel like we can do against the Jets, not some TV show.”