Jonas Gray is coming off the kind of week movies are made of. After toiling on practice squads and fighting for a job in the NFL for a couple of years, Gray took the spotlight on Sunday Night Football and made the most of it, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots 42-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
So, what was his reward for his tremendous performance? The Patriots went out and signed running back LeGarrette Blount just four days later.
Obviously the team's decision didn't have anything to do with Gray's efforts last week but rather was a sign that Bill Belichick believes you can never have too many options at running back, especially when the weather turns late in the season.
Blount was outstanding down the stretch last season after taking over the lead back duties from Stevan Ridley. He scored four touchdowns of his own (and rushed for 166 yards) in a playoff win over the Colts and proved he could be a quality option in the bad New England weather in January.
So, now we're left wondering if Blount's return means simply adding a piece, or some indication that Belichick would like replace Gray in the lead back role.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question asks: Who should be the Patriots lead back?
PFW's Fred Kirsch says ...
Why not Jonas Gray? Has he done anything to not deserve the job? LeGarrette Blount is a fine pick-up for depth and rotation but there's a good chance Gray could be in New England for the long term. Let's see how he handles the lead back duties.
Wouldn't it be nice to go into 2015 knowing for certain what Gray can do as the pressure mounts? He's a north-south runner, quick to the hole and protects the ball like his first-born. He's hungry and has been waiting for a chance to shine. That's exactly what he did in Indy and he'll have similarly productive games if given the chance down the stretch.
If at any time it's apparent his inexperience might hurt the team as the playoffs draw closer, Blount can be leaned on. Until then let 35 carry the rock and continue to build on what he's accomplished so far.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Check out our favorite photos of LeGarrette Blount from the 2013 season.
Jonas Gray was outstanding against the Colts but I have some concerns about his lack of experience, especially playing in big games in bad weather down the stretch. We already know LeGarrette Blount can handle those conditions and in fact he seems to thrive in them.
Blount is bigger at 250 pounds and he possesses more big-play ability than Gray. Last season he ripped off several long runs, including seven of more than 20 yards. He was also at his best when it counted most, finishing the season with 189 yards against Buffalo and following that with a 166-yard effort in the playoffs against Indy. Blount has a nose for the goal line too, picking up seven touchdowns and adding four more in the playoffs.
Blount is a proven commodity and he should take over the lead role for Gray, especially in the playoffs when one fumble or misstep can cost a team the season.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this weeks Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.