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Fred Taylor's impressive career at Jacksonville might be what makes him a good fit for New England. Laurence Maroney and company have been lacking a running back with experience and success since the departure of Corey Dillon and Fred Taylor might just be the man for the job.
In 1998, Fred Taylor had the best season for a running back in Jacksonville history and matched records of players who donned last names like Sanders (Barry), Brown (Jim) and Simpson (O.J.). In 2000, he was 44 yards short of tying with Corey Dillon's NFL single game rushing record of 234 yards. In 2009, he will be joining fellow veteran running back Kevin Faulk along with Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as part of the New England Patriots.
A running back must be resilient, swift, and up until recently, young. Fred Taylor is nowhere near being in his prime. In fact at age 33, many were surprised that he didn't just retire the number 28 Jaguars jersey after being released. No matter his age, he possesses something that can sufficiently create a more consistent running game in New England and that is experience.
The impact of a presence from a player like Fred Taylor greatly affects the performance of the younger players such as Laurence Maroney and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But along with several 1,000-yard seasons, Fred Taylor can provide the leadership that the New England ground offense has desperately been needed on and off the field.
Fred Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars vs the Denver Broncos Oct 12, 2008 (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
With Corey Dillon retiring in 2007, the leadership role was left vacant until the signing of the former Jacksonville Jaguars team captain. Kevin Faulk has had the longest history with the Patriots compared to the other running backs and yet, he hasn't been able to peak in his career. Spending the entirety of his career with the Patriots, Kevin Faulk has fallen short in becoming a LaDainian Tomlinson or a Brian Westbrook. Faulk currently holds a total of 777 carries for 3,170 rushing yards compared to Taylor's staggering 2,428 carries for 11,271 yards. Although having some career high points like helping the Patriots defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX with eight carries in the game, two for critical conversions, Kevin Faulk has always struggled to be the number one running back for Bill Belichick and has constantly felt the threat of a healthy Laurence Maroney.
Laurence Maroney had some of the most notable highlight film coming out of the University of Minnesota in 2006. Lately, the only highlights he's been able to experience are watching them from the sidelines. Maroney sustained a shoulder injury that placed him on injured reserve for the entirety of the 2008-2009 season. Injuries are a familiar fact throughout Fred Taylor's career and with this, he might have a few lessons to teach Laurence Maroney. "Glass Taylor" and "Fragile Fred" were just a few of the names that he acquired after being barraged with 13 different injuries between 2001 and 2008 seasons respectively.
Fred Taylor however, played on and even with the drawbacks, he managed to have a long and effective career with the Jaguars. Now with a new system to learn, new offensive line to trust, and an eager star quarterback, one can hope that there is enough gas left in Fragile Fred.
Kisha Tapangan covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com. To read more of her material, visit her blog at www.nrwithkisha.com.