Running backs are a top strength of the Patriots’ offense
Continuing on the positive front, the Patriots’ running backs are a top component of their overall offense. They possess both talent and strength in depth, a critical component with the new 17-game NFL season. Injuries will happen, and having top runners waiting in the wings is required.
Leading the way are two young top backs in Damien Harris and second-year man Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris broke out in 2021 as the bell-cow back of the offense. He carried the football for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 4.6 yards per rush average. Damn good numbers, and if he can stay healthy he’ll only get better.
As for Stevenson, he had a nice rookie season demonstrating not only power for a big back at about 231 pounds, but also surprising speed and elusiveness. He notched 606 yards, five TDs, and a 4.6 average per rush as well. He certainly justified the prognostication of a favorite commentator in this space, the outstanding ESPN analyst Louis Riddick.
The sky’s the limit for Stevenson and Harris. They’re an excellent one-two punch. Brandon Bolden was an all-purpose machine doing a little bit of everything for the Patriots last season, but he has moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders (Patriots West) with Josh McDaniels. This was a questionable move for the Patriots. Yet, it is what it is.
Another bright spot, however, is James White, if he’s fully recovered from the hip injury he suffered last year. White, at his best, is one of the NFL’s elite pass catchers out of the backfield. A full-strength return is a major plus for Jones and the passing game.
Also on the roster are little-used running backs J.J. Taylor, Devine Ozigbo and Malcolm Perry. These three will be fighting for a roster spot, so with the departure of Jakob Johnson as well to Las Vegas, that’s the lay of the land at the position.
Running backs grade: A-