FOXBORO (CBS) – For New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, a return Tuesday may have only been to the practice field, but was a “long” process 13-months in the making.

“(I’m) pretty excited,” Faulk told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton from his locker Tuesday, at the same time trying to keep his emotions on an even keel. “It’s just practice. We’re not trying to win the last game of the season; it’s just practice right now. Get the feet wet and see how you feel.”

“It’s like riding a bike, you can’t re-teach that. Just have to go out and do what I do,” he said.

Kevin Faulk On Return To Practice

Faulk said his strength has returned after missing 14 games in 2010 with a torn ACL suffered in a Week 2 loss to the Jets.  He began the season on the PUP list, and now the Patriots have three weeks to make a decision on the 12-year vet’s roster status. He could return to action at that point if his health holds up.

While the injury will stay fresh in his memory, Faulk is trying to put it behind him and move on.

“I put it out, but at the same time it’s still there,” he said. “It’s an injury, you had it. But at the same time it’s about being you.”

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Faulk, now the longest tenured Patriot, took his leadership role even more serious while injured. He took the time to help the Patriots younger running backs, including rookies Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

“I can’t tell you how much I’ve helped; I’ve been around to answer any questions they’ve had,” said Faulk.

“Hopefully give them the right answer,” he joked.

While he is excited and anxious to return to game action, he admits there is a little nervousness too. But that, Faulk says, is part of his love for the game.

“Of course, if I wasn’t nervous I would have to question, ‘what am I coming back for?’ he said. “My love for the game is still there, so I am nervous.”

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Although the Patriots have a pretty crowded backfield with BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and the two rookie backs, Faulk can add some depth to a position that seems to have issues staying healthy.  Both Green-Ellis and Woodhead have been banged up early, and Vereen has not been able to contribute much in the offensive game.

With his veteran leadership and overall knowledge of the game, Faulk could return in time to give the Patriots offense another spark.

Defensive linemen Ron Brace and Brandon Deadrick also returned to practice on Tuesday, their first of the season. The Patriots have two open rosters spots at the moment, but have not promoted any of the three to their active roster.

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