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Training Camp Positional Snapshot: Running Backs

In the lead-up to Training Camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the running backs. 

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

Bubble: J.J. Taylor

In the Mix: None

ANALYSIS

Until the Patriots add another veteran running back to the mix, it's difficult to envision a scenario where their top-four backs don't make the roster.

Former Jags and Jets running back James Robinson, who was trying to restart his career following an Achilles tear in the 2021 season, didn't make it out of the spring. As is the case for most players at the position who suffer Achilles injuries, Robinson didn't have the explosiveness needed to make the Patriots roster as a depth option behind Stevenson and was released in June after signing in as a free agent in March.

Although the Patriots can count on Stevenson, Robinson failing to pan out following Damien Harris's departure leaves a level of uncertainty behind the Pats lead back. Last season, Stevenson was a workhorse for New England in a breakout campaign that saw him accumulate 1,461 yards from scrimmage on 279 touches. However, the workload, which included a 66.4% snap rate, saw Stevenson's effectiveness take a downward turn as the season progressed.

With managing Rhamondre's workload in mind, the Pats current options to spell Stevenson are relatively unknown commodities. Starting with their two second-year running backs, New England drafted Pierre Strong (fourth round) and Kevin Harris (sixth round) to prepare the room for this exact roster turnover as Damien Harris headed into a contract year.

Strong flashed his breakaway speed and elusiveness as a rookie, while there were also moments in practice where his 4.37-second 40-yard dash made its presence felt. Harris, on the other hand, is a classic Pats power back at 221 pounds who showed good build-up speed and better receiving skill than anticipated in the spring. Still, between the two, there are only 27 career touches as rookies.

The Patriots also have veteran Ty Montgomery pushing for a passing game role. Montgomery made a strong first impression to win the third-down back job out of camp last summer, playing 20 snaps in the season-opener. He's a heady route-runner with reliable hands and a wide receiver background that allows him to move around the formation. Montgomery's 2022 season was cut short after only one appearance due to injury, though, and it's been years since he has made a real impact offensively.

Ultimately, running backs are mostly replaceable entities where inexperience isn't necessarily a major factor, seeing that young ball carriers produce across the league every year. New England might head into training camp with the mindset of giving their current group a shot.

However, with big-name free agents still available, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Patriots add a more experienced running back who is a known commodity to the group.

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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