New England Patriots: Closing The Book On Preseason Play

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Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) tries to elude Carolina Panthers cornerback Melvin White (23) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. New England wins 17-16 over the Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Down Backs

Another complaint from Patriots fans this offseason was the team’s situation at running back after Shane Vereen went to the Giants. I for one got annoyed at the fans worried about this, because throughout the Bill Belichick era here, running backs have come and gone, and it simply does not affect this offense. Kevin Faulk left, and the Pats found Danny Woodhead. Woodhead left, and they found Shane Vereen. Now that Vereen is gone, they have a few options to choose from, and I would argue that because of their depth, they might actually be better off than they were last year.

James White is probably the most talented, Dion Lewis is eerily similar to Woodhead, Brandon Bolden is the proven veteran, and we can’t forget about Travaris Cadet, who did some nice things back in New Orleans with Drew Brees. Looking solely at their play in the four preseason games, White and Lewis stand out from the rest. Each have excelled in the receiving game, they both can pass protect, and when called upon to run the ball, their shiftiness and field vision have been impressive.

With that said, in the “dress-rehearsal” game in Carolina, Bolden was the guy that got all the reps with Tom Brady, which is telling. He also has a proven rapport with Brady, which is something that is incredibly undervalued in today’s game. I personally like either White or Lewis to get the third down back job, but Bill Belichick may elect to run a rotation to start the year, especially with power back LeGarrette Blount out for the season opener.

Next: The Receivers