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Replay: Best of the Week on Patriots.com Radio Thu Jun 20 - 02:00 PM | Tue Jun 25 - 09:55 AM

Rhamondre Stevenson Back to Form at Patriots Minicamp

Patriots star running back Rhamondre Stevenson is back healthy and ready to get the most out of the team's new offensive system.

Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38).
Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38).

FOXBOROUGH - If there's one thing that looks familiar on the Patriots offense this spring it has been the extensive involvement of Rhamondre Stevenson, who once again appears to be primed to do a little of everything for the newly re-tooled unit under Alex Van Pelt. No matter the changes in the scheme over recent years, Stevenson's playmaking ability has been a constant with only health standing between him and league-wide stardom.

After a breakout in 2022 in which he recorded 1,461 all-purpose yards, Stevenson was limited to just 12 games in 2023, going down with a season-ending high ankle sprain in a 6-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers n Week 13. Losing Stevenson was another significant blow to an offense already leaning heavily on the running back to make things happen.

This spring Stevenson has looked not only fully recovered from the injury, but lighter and quicker through extensive work during OTAs that continued through Monday's first mandatory minicamp session. Following that practice, Stevenson pointed out some small adjustments to his routine that he hopes will pay off during the long grind of the regular season.

"Just better weight, just a little stricter diet, nothing too crazy, just to make sure my body's ready for the whole season," said Stevenson describing the changes he's implemented. "You know it's a long season. I've seen what that could get like so I've tried to prepare myself."

After breaking in as a rookie under Josh McDaniels, then working with Matt Patricia in 2022 and Bill O'Brien in 2023, Stevenson is now on his fourth offensive system in four seasons, but Alex Van Pelt's wide-zone-heavy approach should offer intriguing potential for Stevenson to reach new heights.

"I just turned on, honestly, Nick Chubb's highlights and just seeing him running all throughout defenses with it," said Stevenson. "The linemen are on the right courses, everything looks well put together and everybody's working together. So I hope we could, you know, get that done this year."

Through OTAs and one minicamp practice it's easy to see how Van Pelt and the offensive coaches are putting everything into place. It's still too soon to expect them to be firing on all cylinders, but it is clear that Stevenson and newly signed free agent addition Antonio Gibson, who has experience in a similar system, will be two of the main engines that will make the entire offense click.

"I feel like we've got a great room, not just Rhamondre, a complete room," said Gibson following Monday's session, highlighting other depth players in veterans Kevin Harris and JaMycal Hasty, as well as undrafted rookies Deshaun Fenwick and Terrell Jennings. "Everybody does something a little bit different. Right now we're just working it in to see who does what best and who could complement each other. I'm enjoying it."

"It's all just a learning curve for everybody," said Stevenson. "We're coming in, everything's gonna be different. My rookie year was totally different from anything I'm doing now. But I feel like AVP makes everything kind of translate to one another. So it's not too hard to pick up, just a little learning curve."

If he can master that learning curve there could be a significant payoff waiting for Stevenson as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. He expressed optimism that he and the team could get an extension done sooner than later, but for now, he's trying his best to get up to speed in the new attack.

"It's hard not to think about [the contract situation], this is our career and our life, our future," said Stevenson. "So it's hard not to think about but you know, just being disciplined, just coming out here working every day, and long as you do that everything else should come with it."

Deuce's Dime Package

1. Play of the Day: Kyle Dugger picks off Bailey Zappe and takes it the other way. Great play by Dugger which had shades of his 2022 pick-six against the Raiders. The hope is that Dugger can make more of these kinds of impact plays that seemed to fall off last year without Devin McCourty's flexibility on the back end. Once again, Dugger and the group of safeties are a key component of the defense, with newcomer Jaylinn Hawkins earning some quality reps.

2. Offense Remains a Work In Progress: Simply put the clunkiness of the offense that we saw during OTAs continued into the first minicamp practice. No matter who is under center, the shaky protection and lack of downfield separators continue to hamper team periods where it's more about one-on-ones than systematically moving the football. That's why there isn't reason to panic and there are plenty of flashes from Drake Maye that remind you where things should be headed. For now the offense remains a work in progress despite a handful of plays that offered promise. Maye was solid in his reps and continues to do enough each day to remind everyone of his potential. Maye's best throw came on a contested catch touchdown by La'Michael Pettway, who snatched the ball from the defender for a would-be score.

Patriots wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk (1).
Patriots wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk (1).

3. Standouts: Some players who stood out today included Ja'Lynn Polk, who made a strong hands catch from Brissett in the back of the end zone, Christian Gonzalez, who had an impressive pass deflection that was nearly intercepted, and cornerback Alex Austin, who continues to see high-level reps.

4. Movement: After seeing snaps at left tackle in OTAs, rookie Caedan Wallace has been seeing more snaps at right tackle over the last two weeks. On Monday the team had him at right tackle and Michael Onwenu at right guard as they continue to mix and match looking for the right combinations. Chuks Okorafor remains the top choice at left tackle, with Calvin Anderson also getting some notable reps on the left side.

5. Risers: Some players to keep an eye on this summer who have been getting some interesting reps over the course of the spring include Oshane Ximines, who is taking advantage of limited OLB depth and health, JaMycal Hasty, who has been productive in the running back rotation and shown good burst, and Isaiah Bolden, who could be a four-down contributor this year. Marco Wilson has also been in the mix at cornerback.

6. Reagor: It's hard to figure out how things will play out at wide receiver but Jalen Reagor had a nice day on Monday with some nice grabs in team periods. His return ability could help his cause this summer. Seems like each practice features a new wideout making a couple notable plays. Consistency will be a huge factor in that position group. Pop Douglas was extremely involved while it was more of an up and down day for Tyquan Thornton. Juju Smith-Schuster and K.J. Osborn lead off most of the drills.

Patriots quarterbacks Joe Milton III (19) and Drake Maye (10).
Patriots quarterbacks Joe Milton III (19) and Drake Maye (10).

7. Zappe/Milton: Not much action for Bailey Zappe or Joe Milton in this practice as Brissett and Maye ate up the majority of the snaps. But even in just limited reps, Milton showed once again what he's all about, firing two lasers for completions then missing on two incompletions with similar rocket throws. It's hard to tell how things might play out between those two in the coming weeks if the team really does want to get down to only three QBs.

8. DL Depth? Nice to see Davon Godchaux back on the field but he wasn't very active in team periods. Without him or Lawrence Guy, who was released this offseason, the defensive line looks a lot more different than anyone wants to admit. Daniel Ekuale, Tristan Hill and Jeremiah Pharms are getting significant reps, while Keion White seems to be ascending into a bigger role overall. Free agent addition Armon Watts has not been as involved early on as we might've originally projected. It seems clear that the team needs Godchaux to be the main man upfront because there is quite a bit of unproven depth behind him.

9. Hunter Henry is another player like Stevenson who looks like they're already ready to go. He and Austin Hooper should be heavily involved in the attack and thus far, Henry has looked his usual comfortable and athletic self. Considering what Van Pelt has done in the past with tight ends, Henry could have a monster season.

10. Not Seen: Kendrick Bourne and Jahlani Tavai have continued to rehab from offseason surgery, while Jonathan Jones and rookie Javon Baker were present but did not do any team work. Sione Takitaki has been absent the last three sessions and is one player whose absence has increased reps for players like Raekwon McMillan, Christian Elliss and Joe Giles-Harris. There's a lot of special teams competition among the backup linebackers and defensive backs. Cole Strange, Josh Uche and Jake Andrews were also missed, offering up plenty of interesting reps at guard, pass rusher and center.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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