By: Ian Logue/
August 28, 2003

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FOXBORO, MA -- Heading into his fourth NFL season Patriots runningback Patrick Pass may finally be working his way up the depth chart.

While teammates Kevin Faulk and Antowain Smith have been battling it out for the starting role, Pass has quietly finished the preseason as the team's leading rusher. His 9-carry 30-yard performance, which included two touchdowns during the Patriots 38-23 victory over the Chicago Bears on Wednesday night, helped him pass both Faulk and Smith in yards rushing during the preseason. Pass finished with 32-carries for 133-yards, which were 11-yards better than Smith and 52 better than Faulk. He also finished with a 4.2 average in yards-per-carry, with Smith and Faulk both averaging 3.3 and 3.5-yards per carry respectively.

Pass has also excelled on kickoff returns, finishing 2nd on the team during the preseason behind rookie Bethel Johnson. Johnson returned 7-kicks for 246-yards including a 98-yard touchdown, while Pass finished with 6 returns for 189-yards.

On Wednesday night Pass had returns of 35 and 59-yards and finished with 3-returns for 111-yards.

Not bad for the former 7th round draft choice taken out of Georgia back in 2000.

However Pass put a slight blemish on his resume on Wednesday night, with Bears safety Cameron Worrell returning a fumble from Pass that went 30 yards the other way for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. The turnover gave Chicago a 23-17 advantage after the Bears failed on a 2-point conversion attempt.

While his overall performance may be enough to cause Belichick and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to consider where or if he fits in with the team's runningback plans, Belichick told reporters that Pass still has a lot of work ahead of him.

"It was an up and down performance," Belichick told the media after the game regarding Pass' performances. "He did some good things, and he did a couple things that weren't so good. Any time you give up a touchdown running the ball, that's not good."

"Patrick had a nice kickoff return, I thought he ran hard, made some plays. A couple plays [he made] looked like they might not have been so good. So we'll weigh the positives and negatives, take a look at the film, and then make a good evaluation on him. But there were certainly some nice plays he had out there, and probably a couple he'd like to have back."

Pass started two games as a rookie, but appeared in just three others after finishing with 18-carries for 58-yards (3.2 avg). He then carried a combined five times for 34-yards in 2001 and 2002, and had many fans wondering prior to the start of training camp whether he'd be on the roster by the time the season began.

Now they'll just be wondering where he'll fit in.

Washington the key

Ted Washington did not play on Wednesday night after Belichick told reporters the veteran defensive tackle went home to take care of some personal business. The absence wasn't a surprise as Belichick told reporters that he knew about the trip when the team first acquired Washington last week via a trade with the Bears.

"Did you miss him out there?" Belichick asked reporters with a sly grin on his face.

It's pretty obvious that New England's defense certainly did.

Chicago was able to put together a 10-play 61-yard drive during their second drive of the game, finishing with a touchdown. They also ran the football fairly well against the Patriots first defensive unit, something Philadelphia had not been able to do last week with Washington in the line-up.

Prior to his arrival New England had yet to find a nose tackle that they believed could handle the role in the team's 3-4 defense. After just one game the veteran has proven his value and will likely be an important part of the fate of their season.

It begins with a match-up against one of the better runningbacks in the NFL in Travis Henry and last year's second-leading passer in Drew Bledsoe as the team will now prepare to face Bledsoe and the Bills in Buffalo on September 7th.