Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson had an outstanding preseason for the Patriots, scoring five touchdowns, including a 91-yarder in the opener against the Washington Football Team. His strong running, averaging 7.2 yards-per-carry through the three games in August and finishing as the leading preseason rushing in the NFL, was reason to believe that the rookie would make an immediate impact.
But in the first game, Stevenson had a fumble and struggled on a pass protection rep, cutting his debut short. After spending the next three games inactive, Stevenson has bounced back in the last two games, rushing 16 times for 46 yards, including his first career regular-season touchdown against the Cowboys, while also chipping in an intriguing three catches for 39 yards.
"I'm getting a feel for the game a little bit more, just getting comfortable with my teammates and I know that they're starting to trust me more so that makes me even more confident," said Stevenson on Thursday evening. "I think it's just a confidence thing."
With rising confidence, Stevenson offers intriguing potential for the Patriots backfield that has battled through injuries and inconsistencies through six games. They're led by workhorse Damien Harris, who has three touchdowns and 331 rushing yards. But at 23rd in rushing offense DVOA and 27th in rushing yards per game, the group could certainly use the kind of boost that Stevenson could provide, especially after James White's hip injury landed him on IR.
White continues to lend his leadership behind the scenes despite his injury.
"He's still vocal, he's in all of our ears, still he's a great mentor," said Stevenson of White.
Stevenson's soft hands have been on display since the summer and, as he gets more confident, he could offer some third-down possibilities in replacement of White. But route running has been a new challenge for the rookie.
"I ran routes before but it's never been very consistent," said Stevenson. "I'm learning, getting better and better at those each day as well. Just like any other part of my game, I feel like it's elevating."
A rookie season can be a whirlwind but it appears that Stevenson is starting to find his footing and that's good news for the direction of the Patriots' attack.
"It's football at the end of the day, I feel like I just need to do what I was blessed to do and just make it count every rep on the field," said Stevenson.