FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -Laurence Maroney missed the last three games with a groin injury. Now Sammy Morris is sidelined.
The New England Patriots may be 6-0, but their record of keeping running backs healthy is less impressive.
Morris was hurt during Sunday's 48-27 win at Dallas and left the locker room with his left arm in a sling. The team said Wednesday he had a chest injury, quarterback Tom Brady said it was a shoulder and cornerback Ellis Hobbs said it was a collarbone.
The Patriots, always reluctant to describe injuries in detail, know he'll be gone for a while.
``Sammy has done a good job for us,'' coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. ``He's played on all four downs. He's done a good job. We'll evaluate him day-to-day like everybody else and take it from there.''
Maroney, who gained 252 yards on 54 carries in the first three games, ran well in practice Wednesday but took some plays off and won't play Sunday against winless Miami.
Morris leads the Patriots with 384 yards on 85 rushes. His absence likely will provide more playing time for third-down back Kevin Faulk and rookie fullback Kyle Eckel, who scored his first NFL touchdown last Sunday after starting the season on the practice squad.
``I'm not sure what's going to happen this week, but I just have to stay prepared and keep focusing on making improvements,'' Eckel said. ``What I try to keep myself focused on is just being prepared for any situation. Somebody goes down, 'Eckel, we need you out here, we need you there.'''
Belichick may be saying that more often.
``He's obviously more of an inside runner,'' the coach said. ``A fullback type of runner, but he's a runner.''
Faulk is in his ninth season with the Patriots. His first concern when Morris was hurt was about his teammate's condition.
``But at the same time, it's getting yourself together, knowing that you're going in for him and probably going to get the bulk of the plays,'' Faulk said. ``That's just trying to be patient and knowing what you have to do for the rest of the game.''
Hobbs has an idea of what Morris may be going through.
``I've broken my collarbone three times, so I know exactly what he's feeling,'' he said. ``I don't know exactly, but I know it's something with the collarbone.''
Brady had another take on the injury.
``We'll see how his shoulder does,'' Brady said. ``One thing that I thought was great about last week was the way that Kevin Faulk stepped in there and played against the regular defense, running a bunch of runs that he probably hasn't run in a few years, since Corey (Dillon) got here. We're going to need more of that.''
Dillon retired when the Patriots didn't re-sign him after last season.
``Our backs as a group have been pretty productive for us. They all have roles and those roles might change from game to game,'' Belichick said. ``We have confidence with whichever guy is in there.''

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