New England Patriots: Choosing the next leader of the backfield
By Stephen Ur
Former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that the 2016 leading rusher is gone, who will lead the Patriots running back pack?
There are currently eight running backs on the New England Patriots roster. When training camp and preseason is over, there will more likely than not be eight running backs on the final roster. However, based on performance, the main four will be Super Bowl LI hero James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee.
White only rushed 39 times for 166 yards during the 2016 regular season, but he came alive in Super Bowl LI. He scored three total touchdowns, including the game-winner to cap off the amazing comeback in overtime to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.
Burkhead only rushed for 344 yards on 74 carries and scored just twice. While that performance isn’t the best, he could see his numbers improve behind New England’s offensive line.
Lewis seems like the best bet to be the lead running back. In his four seasons in the NFL, he’s rushed for 688 yards and four scores. He’s also shown versatility, becoming a receiver for Tom Brady when needed.
There’s just one issue with Lewis. He has a history with injuries. He’s torn his ACL in 2015. He’s also only started seven games in both seasons in New England. If he could stay healthy, however, he could prove to be great.
And the Winner Is…
The right running back to take the most carries appears to be White. He, like Lewis, has shown versatility for the Patriots.
Not only did White score there touchdowns in Super Bowl LI. He caught a Super Bowl record 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots went on to overcome a 28-3 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.
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For those asking why White should start over Lewis despite both being versatile, injury plays part in it. Lewis could easily injure himself Week 1 and be done for the year. White has yet to show he’s injury-prone.