FOXBORO -- The Kevin Faulk celebrations will continue this weekend.
The former Patriots running back was inducted to the team's Hall of Fame over the summer in a ceremony that included an appearance from quarterback Tom Brady wearing Faulk's No. 33 jersey. And on Sunday, Faulk will be honored at halftime of New England's home-opener against the Dolphins as this year's Hall at Patriot Place inductee.
Faulk has earned in share of praise in recent months, but Bill Belichick continued to fawn over the man he coached for 12 years when he was asked in Friday's press conference if there was a player on the current Patriots roster who reminded him of Faulk.
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For anyone who may have questioned the impact that a return man and third-down back could have had on a dynasty, in about five minutes, and with 841 words, Belichick provided an emphatic reminder.
"Well, I mean that’s a pretty high bar," Belichick said. "You’re talking about Kevin Faulk. We have guys like James White or [Shane] Vereen going back that had similar roles and had production. Kevin’s pretty special.
"As I said this summer, I think many impressive things about Kevin, amongst them would be that I thought he played his best football in the biggest games, the most critical situations, the most critical plays. The times when we need him the most is when he came through with some of his best plays. The Carolina Super Bowl, the two-point play, I think it was the only time he scored all year, but what bigger play is there than that? So, I’d say that’s kind of typical of Kevin.
"I can still see him converting on third-down or punt-return situations, getting him in a nine-man, handling a short punt, or blitz-pickup so that we could make the play to somebody else, but him stepping up and making the block that we needed on a critical third-down or two-minute play to be successful. I think Kevin’s one of the great, great examples -- and I’ve tried to point this out to players that I’ve coached throughout my entire career -- Kevin’s a player that came in . . . I mean first of all, out of all the great running backs that have come out of LSU, which have been a lot of them, he has pretty much got every record. I mean [Leonard] Fournette might break a couple of them this year, but he has pretty much been the best guy down there of all the great ones they’ve had. His role in the NFL was different than that and he accepted his role, he embraced his roles, and he was the best that he could be in those roles and he’s a Hall of Fame player.
"Instead of sometimes trying to make a role different, instead of embracing the role that your team wants you to have and needs you to have, some players want a role that they want to have and then sometimes that’s a little bit of a conflict. I think Kevin was a great example of coming in here, he started off as a returner and was a great runner, but kind of worked his way into more of a third-down sub-back, but he always had good run skills, and he had a lot of good runs for us. He was great in the passing game, he was great in the return game when we needed him, he was a great leader.
"When we had backs like Corey Dillon, he was a great -- or Antowain [Smith] or guys like that -- he was not only a great compliment to them, but he was a great mentor to them in terms of preparation and dependability and a lot of little things. Just taking care of a lot of little things so the example and the leadership that he gave to the team was exceptional. It really was. And to a degree, a little bit below the radar. Not a big out-front team captain and that type of profile, yet the undercurrent that he had was arguably as strong as any. Kind of like Troy Brown. A little bit different than Troy Brown, but kind of like Troy Brown.
"A really, really special player. [He] had ball-security issues, had blitz-pickup issues when I got here. He came in, 'Coach, what do I need to do?' 'Kevin, here’s what you need to do.' He worked very hard at it, became very good at it. It wasn’t an attitude of, like, 'Well, look, here’s what I’m good at. Here’s what I want to do. What do I need to do to help the team?' [He’d] go out there and do it.
"You’re probably really lucky as a coach if you have a couple of guys, we’ve had a lot of guys like that, and he would certainly be up there at the head of that class. And honestly I think it’s great that he has been recognized for that. I don’t even know how many games he started in his career, but I would venture to say not all that many, yet you’re talking about a Hall of Famer player that let’s just say wasn’t even a starter, but that doesn’t really matter.
"When the game was on the line he was always in the game and he was always in the eye of the storm, and that really speaks more to me to the value of the player than whose name is in there on the starting lineup on the first play of the game. You’ve got 59 minutes of football left. I don’t think that’s the most important play yet that’s what a lot of people want to relate it to. Really the most important plays are the game-winning plays at the end of the game. Who’s in there for those? That’s what you really want to know."