Laurence Maroney has become the forgotten man in the New England backfield.
Maroney didn't make it on the field Thursday after he was scheduled to start against the Rams. He seems entrenched ever deeper in coach Bill Belichick's doghouse with no apparent out. And nobody is exactly certain why, considering Maroney is coming off a strong 2009 season, in which he ran for 757 yards and a career-high nine TDs.
He remains the only running back without a pre-season start. In the team's three pre-season games, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has gotten the most reps, as he's been in on 47 plays out of a possible 171. Maroney has gotten the least work of anyone, with just 12, behind Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor, Chris Taylor and Thomas Clayton.
The cold shoulder has been so evident the whispers are starting that the team may trade or even release him. Sounds far-fetched. But when asked about Maroney all Belichick would say is that he didn't get into the game because New England "didn't have the ball" enough. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.
Perhaps they are saving him for the season. It does happen. But Belichick has given no such indication with Maroney. Even when the team was trying to run out the clock Thursday they gave the ball to Green-Ellis.
Asked about his disappearing act earlier, Maroney told reporters: "The best is yet to come."
It better. It can't get much worse.