The New England Patriots offense ate up an undisciplined Philadelphia Eagles defense during the preseason game on Friday, and nobody took more advantage of the Eagles weaknesses on defense than running back LeGarrette Blount, who came into the game as the No. 5 running back. Even after Blount ran for 102 yards on just 11 carries in the opener, I would still consider Blount on the bubble, but he has to have moved ahead of Brandon Bolden after that performance. Although I think the Pats could take five running backs, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe writes that Bill Belichick would likely rather keep four and that Bolden and Blount are fighting for the same roster spot.
Blount was gifted most of his yardage on a 51-yard scamper due to some awful tackling from the Eagles, and the Eagles as a whole just could not play defense. Their front seven was manhandled by the Patriots offensive line, which was absolutely dandy throughout (the starters were insanely good, and even the deep backups like R.J. Mattes played really well), and the Eagles secondary wasn’t much better. They just couldn’t stop Stevan Ridley or Blount, and they can consider themselves lucky to have stifled Brandon Bolden to just 14 yards on four carries.
And therein lies why Blount has leapfrogged Bolden on the depth chart. Both players played against essentially the same defense, and Blount clearly played better than Bolden. Although it is too much of a knee-jerk reaction to give Blount a clear track to a roster spot over Bolden after just 11 carries (that really is small sample size when looking at the Eagles D), it is certainly something, and the most important thing is the fact that Blount received nearly triple the amount of carries as Bolden. A 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie, Blount has plenty of ability, and he showed it on Friday. Does that give him a roster spot? Not yet. For Blount, making the roster spot over Bolden is the first step and hardest part (he could also make the roster with Bolden, though that seems less likely), because he could do some serious damage as the Patriots No. 2 leading rusher behind star Stevan Ridley.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is a prime breakout candidate if he can stay healthy this season, because the Patriots finally know his role in this offense after his big games in November of last year. His improved long speed and versatility as a wide receiver make him a great weapon as a No. 3 receiver, but he has competition for that role from the rookies.
It’s interesting to see that Jeff Howe does not have Julian Edelman as a lock to make the 53-man roster, and that’s certainly interesting. It has to do with injuries, but I can’t see Edelman being cut from this perspective. He is injury prone, but he’s also talented, ridiculously cheap on a one-year deal that is tailor-made for a chronically injured player, and Edelman also has plenty of experience with a great rapport with Tom Brady.