By: Jake Mackey
The most undervalued position on the Patriots roster throughout the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era is without a doubt the running back position. The team has never gone out and spent big money on one, and they have only invested a first-round pick on a back once in Laurence Maroney, and that was a massive failure. Now they have a plethora of backs heading into the 2016 season, and there are certainly are a lot of touches up for grabs. So without further a due here is my breakdown of the Patriots 2016 running backs.
Dion Lewis: Without a doubt the number one running back on the Patriots roster is Dion Lewis, the 5-8, 195 pound out of nowhere star of 2015. In only seven games Lewis had 36 receptions, for 388 yards, and two touchdowns through the air and two on the ground. After a torn ACL in November, his stellar season was cut short. ACL tears are not what they use to be, but many still think that he will not be what he was in 2015. I would not expect the same production that we saw in the first seven weeks of last season, but I would still expect starting back caliber production.
(GIF Credit: SBNation.com)
LeGarrette Blount: There was much speculation as to whether or not the Patriots would bring back LeGarrette Blount in 2016 given his sub par 2015 season. After a month or so of speculation, the team decided to bring him back for one more crack at things. Even though for the most part, Blount dances around in the backfield and gets stuffed for a loss, he is the only true bell cow back on the Patriots roster. With Dion Lewis being the consensus starting back, all the offense needs out of Blount is for him to get a yard on fourth and goal when they need it. His spot on the roster certainly is not guaranteed given the cheapness of his contract
James White: A very poor man’s Dion Lewis is probably the best way to describe James White. When Lewis went down in 2015, all eyes turned to White. Fantasy nerds would tell you that White and Lewis could now be a dynamic duo in the backfield, because White piles up the touchdowns. However, White just can’t make the extra move and he does not have that 0 to 60 speed that Lewis has, which just makes him an average pass catching back. Everyone saw that in the AFC Championship in Denver.
Brandon Bolden: Certainly Brandon Bolden has always been thought of as a core special teams player. Nevertheless, Tom Brady definitely likes him some Brandon Bolden. Josh McDaniels likes to put Bolden on the outside from time to time and match him up with a linebacker. That was evident in November against Denver when Bolden had a 60-yard touchdown grab down the sideline in what should have been the dagger in that game, until Chris Harper muffed a punt. Always expect Bolden to get solid touches offensively simply because number 12 likes to have him out there.
Donald Brown: The Patriots signed Donald Brown this past offseason, and he certainly looks to be in competition with LeGarrette Blount for the, “bell cow” back role. At 5-11, 210 pounds Brown is not your typical dip the shoulder and run through defenders type of running back, but he is shifty. He is probably best known from his time with Indianapolis as he spent his first five seasons there from 2009-2013.
Tyler Gaffney: The player that has all sorts of hype but has never touched the field in a real game for the Patriots. Gaffney has spent the past two seasons on injured reserve. His stellar college career at Stanford has created a hype wave around him, even though he has barely suited up for practices with the Patriots. This may very well be his last chance to make the club, but you can’t do that from the trainer’s table.
DJ Foster: Without question, DJ Foster right now is the overwhelming favorite to make the team as an un-drafted rookie. The Arizona State product was second team all Pac-12, and a 5-10, 193 pounds he can serve as another option out of the backfield. The Arizona State offense has always been one that is pass heavy, and that could make his transition to Foxborough a tad bit easier.
Foster is already standing out at OTA’s
(Video credit: NESN.com)
Joey Iosefa: “The Hawaiian Hammer” saw brief game action in 2015 when injuries hit the team hard in December. He ran for 51 yards against the Titans in week 15. This summer with the roster healthy, he will for sure have an uphill battle to make the squad.
(GIF Credit: thedeependMiami.com)