FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – As if losing Matt Light’s blocking and Rodney Harrison’s toughness weren’t enough, the New England Patriots will also have to deal with the loss of pass-catching back Kevin Faulk.

Faulk, one of quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable receivers, injured his foot in Sunday’s win at Pittsburgh. It was unclear Thursday how many games he would miss.

Unlike Harrison’s left knee and Light’s right leg, the injury didn’t receive much attention at first, but losing him for an extended period will make it even harder for the Patriots to win a third straight Super Bowl.

Harrison, the team’s strong safety, tore ligaments in his knee and is out for the year. Light, the left tackle, hurt his leg and is out indefinitely.

Faulk is the 10th-leading receiver in franchise history, with 217 receptions for 1,935 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, he’s tied for third on the team with 13 catches.

Despite fumbling twice in Pittsburgh, Faulk was a force in the passing game with seven catches for 71 yards. He had a 23-yard gain on a screen pass and appeared to injure himself on a 17-yard pickup on the first play of the Patriots’ winning drive in the final two minutes.

Brady praised Faulk for making that last reception. “Talk about making a catch under pressure,” Brady said. “Not a good throw and he catches it and snaps it up and made it look easy.”

As Faulk’s replacement, the Patriots signed former Steelers and Raiders running back Amos Zereoue on Wednesday and could make fullback Patrick Pass a bigger part of the passing game.

Zereoue, a seventh-year pro, has averaged 40 catches a year over the last three seasons.

He has also three career 100-yard receiving games.

At 5-foot-8, 205 pounds, he is almost identical in build to Faulk (5-8, 202).

“I know Kevin really well,” Zereoue said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to him. I think he’ll bounce right back. He’s a real talented back.

“I told him when I saw him, Listen, if the opportunity comes, I’m going to fill in real nicely. I’ll take care of it until you get back.”‘

AP-ES-09-29-05 1518EDT


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