lgoby Scott Benson

Mike Reiss is reporting that the Patriots have placed running back Laurence Maroney on injured reserve, ending his season.

Maroney had suffered with a shoulder injury apparently sustained in the season’s second game, a road win over the Jets. He was averaging an abysmal 3.3 yards a carry in limited action in 2008.

The lackluster production this season had caused many fans to throw up their hands on the former first round pick, who was thought to have won over all but his most strident detractors with his impressive play down the stretch in 2007.

He was tentative, even timid, in his 28 carries this season, rarely taking a decisive path up the field, even when one actually existed.

The Patriots selected Maroney with the 21st selection of the 2006 NFL Draft, a relatively light year for the kind of ‘franchise back’ that fans look for in a first round pick.

Others selected in 06 include Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams (27th), Indy’s Joseph Addai (30th), Tennessee’s LenDale White (45th), Maurice Jones-Drew (60th) of Jacksonville and New York’s Leon Washington (117th).

The draft’s top ranked runner, Reggie Bush of New Orleans, was picked 2nd by the Saints.

Arguably, all have since carved out more prominent roles with their teams than Maroney has with the Patriots. Now, he heads to the sideline again after just nine career starts, with underwhelming productivity and a chronic shoulder(s) problem. He had off-season shoulder surgery in 2007.

The Patriots’ pre-season decision to carry five running backs may have been influenced, at least in part, by concerns over that very issue. If so, good call, even if it wasn’t a good draft pick.

The team will move forward without Maroney when they face the Denver Broncos in about 90 minutes.