Last December Dion Lewis was barely a noticeable name on the NFL transaction wire, signing at futures contract with the Patriots.
By the summer he was opening some eyes on the practice field, but still seemed very much in a battle with James White and Travaris Cadet for the job of replacing departed Super Bowl hero Shane Vereen.
But through the first eight games of 2015, Lewis clearly entrenched himself as a key cog in the Patriots offense as a trusted playmaker for Tom Brady to turn to as both a runner and receiver.
So, with Lewis limping off with a torn ACL in the third quarter of Sunday win over the Redskins and landing on injured reserve on Monday, it's left a surprisingly big hole in New England's roster of weapons heading into the second half of the season.
The Boston Globe breaks down how Lewis became an "unexpected weapon" for the Patriots. The Globe offers its news story on Lewis going on IR, while wondering who New England could turn to in in the backfield in Lewis' absence. The Globe also looks at some of the key plays from Sunday's win over Washington.
The Boston Herald says it won't be easy to replace Lewis. Ron Borges' Herald report card from the win over the Redskins includes very high marks for both the offensive and defensive lines. Herald columnist Steve Buckley says that the Patriots "revenge tour" is a matter of survival. The Herald blog takes Tuesday to take a closer look at a key third-down stop for the New England defense against Washington.
The Providence Journal *relays the thoughts of many spoiled Patriots fans, saying the team is so good that it is almost boring. The *ProJo notes that linebacker Jonathan Freeny has been a surprising asset for the New England defense. The paper's Patriots film review has plenty of praise for the makeshift offensive line against Washington.
ESPNBoston.com says the Patriots offense is still loaded even without Lewis. The site notes that Dont'a Hightower's reps were cut a bit in the second half against the Redskins because he was dealing with "a little virus." ESPNBoston.com has James White, who'll likely be leaned on more heavily after the Lewis injury, saying that the next guy up "can't be Superman." The site notes that White and Brandon Bolden will indeed be the "next man up," while passing along Lewis' own words from Twitter.
WEEI.com John Tomase gives his take on Wes Welker returning to play, signing with the Rams on Monday. The site also looks at how New England might try to replace Lewis. WEEI.com also looks ahead to Sunday's game in New York with five things to know about the Giants.
CSNNE.com passes along White talking about his role and Lewis' injury. The site wonders if the Broncos are contenders or pretenders in the AFC. Cadet had been seen as a possible option for the Patriots to turn to given his summer spent with the team, but the veteran signed with the 49ers on Monday.
NFL.com has the Patriots, no surprise, in the top spot of its power rankings.
The New York Times wonders about a possible Patriots and Panthers Super Bowl rematch this February.
NESN.com's film review focuses on the unsung Patriots who stepped up in Sunday's win.