3 Patriots players auditioning for 2021 roster spot in Week 17

Patriots RB Sony Michel (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Patriots RB Sony Michel (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /
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Patriots RB Sony Michel (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

1. Sony Michel

Patriots RB Sony Michel needs to keep up his hot streak against the Jets.

Given his performance in training camp, it really wasn’t surprising to see Damien Harris put a stranglehold on the No. 1 running back spot after Sony Michel landed on injured reserve with a quad injury earlier in the season.

During his time as the starter, the 2019 third-round pick racked up three 100-yard games while averaging an impressive 5.0 yards per attempt. Unfortunately for Harris, however, the ineptitude of the passing game really stopped him in his tracks, as he logged just 44.2 yards per game from Weeks 11 to 14 before he hit the shelf with an ankle injury.

That knock has sidelined him for the last two contests, paving the way for Michel to prove his worth ahead of a pivotal offseason. To his credit, the Georgia product has grabbed that opportunity by the scruff of the neck, serving as the lone bright spot on an otherwise stagnant offense.

During that span, he’s taken 20 carries for 143 yards (7.15 YPC) while showcasing an undeniable uptick in acceleration and ability to break tackles that was previously nowhere to be found in his game. This limited sample size probably won’t be enough to convince the Patriots to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, but another sold performance could really do wonders for him in terms of keeping his spot on the roster and taking on a big role.

Even though the Patriots will have a ton of cap space at their disposal this offseason, you have to think they wouldn’t be open to keeping Michel as an uninspiring backup (assuming they feel that way about him), especially with his $3 million cap hit.