By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
May 18, 2009

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It was a run out of bounds last October against the San Francisco 49ers that started a lot of controversy for Patriots runningback Laurence Maroney.

When he returned to the sidelines he was caught on camera in an altercation with runningbacks coach Ivan Fears, and then shortly after that week found himself on injured reserve and out for the rest of the 2008 season.

In a meeting with the media the week after that game Maroney hinted about his "issues" when questioned as to why he opted to run out bounds just short of the first down mark.

"I have my issues. There's reasons. I'd rather not speak about them, but there are reasons," said Maroney of the play. He reportedly suffered a shoulder injury in game two against the Jets, but very little was said about the injury which did keep him out the following week against Miami. However, the next week he reappeared on the practice participation report leading up to the 49ers game, and was listed as having fully participated Wednesday but was "limited" on Thursday with the shoulder ailment.

As he continued to be interrogated, Maroney wouldn't let on to what was going on with him, and the constant mention of "issues" certainly had many wondering if something else was going on.

"Like I said, I have issues right now but I'm trying to work through them the best I can and trying to do the best I can with my problems."

It's well known that head coach Bill Belichick's policy regarding injuries prevents players from discussing any details regarding whatever ailment they're dealing with. So it appears that Maroney chose the word "issue", which in this region can be construed as many different things. It lead to stories after that week that left many wondering if something else was going on.

"All I can say [is] I'm trying," said Maroney at the time. "That's all I can do no matter what the media says, how they perceive me, how the fans perceive me. I'm trying. At the end of the day, that's all I can do. If I was out here not trying then that's one thing but I'm actually out here trying to do what I can do. So I really don't care what everybody else says. The coaches know the issue, I know the issue and we're just trying to make the issue better if we can."

Whatever it was didn't seem to get better, as Maroney missed the following week against San Diego and was later placed on injured reserve on October 20th, which ended his season.

Discussions raged on after that week questioning Maroney's toughness and whether or not it was his attitude or something else that caused his season to come to an end.

On Monday we finally learned what the "issue" really was.

The Boston Globe revealed that Maroney had suffered a broken bone in his shoulder during the Jets game, and admitted it was frustrating listening to people talk about his lack of toughness during the offseason.

"I had a broken bone and I was trying to play with it," Maroney told the newspaper. "It's kind of hard to sit here and play and not tell people what is going on. Everybody is going to think one way because they don't really know what's going on. I dare anybody in this crowd to play football with a broken bone in your shoulder and you tell me how long you're going to last out there."

In the last couple of weeks Maroney has been very vocal about his desire to come out and prove himself this season, which should be music to the ears of every Patriots fan. Considering the number of injuries the team has dealt with, and how important depth is at the runningback position, Maroney returning to form would be the equivalent of a significant free agent pick up.

After all, people seem to forget that Maroney is just 24 years old, and he's only been in the league for three seasons. Prior to last season he's averaged over 4 yards per carry, and has performed well despite sharing time with other veteran backs. There are many who talk about the fact that Maroney has yet to have a 1,000 yard season, but they seem to forget about the circumstances as to why that hasn't happened just yet. Maroney played in 14 games in his first season (2006), rushing for 745 yards in 14 games while sharing time with Corey Dillon. He rushed for 835 yards in just 13 games during the 2007 season in what was primarily a passing offense while sharing time with Sammy Morris. After watching this offense it would have been tough for any ruuningback over the past two seasons to achieve that mark since the team has continued to rotate through them during each game.

So far this offseason it's been business as usual for Maroney. He's been active in local charity events, participating in last week's charity softball game with Kevin Faulk, and has his annual football camp coming up on June 12th and 13th at Normandy Senior high school in St. Louis (you can sign up at Maroney39.com).

A post on his Twitter Page last Friday has him trying to let everyone know that he'll be back and ready to go this season.

"(I've) really been putting in hard work this off season, i really feel like i might just take off this year," wrote Maroney.

Hopefully now that Patriots fans know what the "issues" were they'll realize how valuable a healthy 24-year old runningback with his talents may be heading into this season.


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