Patriots head coach Bill Belichick once called former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, “the perfect player” when he retired several years ago. Had that time come this year for Kevin Faulk, it would have been interesting to hear what he would have said about one of his most respected veterans.
But it appears that will have to wait. At least for now.
Following their week two loss to the Jets last season, Faulk found himself with a torn ACL in his right knee that ended his season and could have potentially ended his career. The 35-year old immediately turned his attention to working his way back, and – if you wanted to call it ‘fortunate’ – thankfully had the injury occur early enough in the season to give him additional time to rehabilitate it.
At the time, Faulk never doubted he’d be back.
“The day I got hurt, that was it,” Faulk said Saturday. “That was in my mindset, but at the same time, I knew I had to make the football team.”
Hopefully fans will get to see Faulk run out onto the field once again this season. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
For the majority of the offseason fans wondered if he’d be able to return. Then after watching his football team grab 2nd round back Shane Vereen during April’s draft, it appeared that the chances seemed even a little slimmer that there would be a roster spot available for him.
But in Faulk’s mind, there was no chance he wouldn’t be ready physically when camp started. According to NESN Faulk received a phone call from Belichick prior to the lockout that gave him the additional motivation to make sure he was able to go when it was time to resume football in Foxboro.
“[Belichick] told me, ‘Hey, look, Kevin, I want you on my team in 2011,'” Faulk said. “That was motivation enough for me to go out and rehab my butt off and get ready for the season, whatever it may be and whenever it may come. That was pretty much enough for me.”
We learned this morning that the team signed him to a 1-year deal, which now has him under contract for at least this season. He still has to take the field, something he can’t do yet due to a restriction in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that – like several other players – will prevent him from coming back until at least August 4th. Like any other player coming back from injury, he’ll still need to see how his body feels and how his knee responds to impact once he gets back out there.
“That’s why I have to get on the football field,” Faulk said. “That’s one thing. I know, physically, I feel good, but mentally, I want to get out there and see how it is, getting hit, pushing and pulling against linebackers and stuff. That’s just the process of it.”
The fact that he’s even back in the fold is encouraging, as #33 obviously means a lot to the fans as well as the guys in the locker room. As for retirement, it looks like that will have to wait for now, as will what adjective Belichick will finally come up with for him the day Faulk decides to call it a career.