New England Patriots: Running back position is a bit crowded

The New England Patriots have a crowded running back group that is most likely going to decrease by the start of the season. They currently have six running backs on the roster, which some of them can all offer similar qualities to the team. NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry believes the Pats will finalize the 53-man roster with four running backs.

Having six running backs on the roster seems a bit outrageous, even for the Patriots. They’re going to have to make some cuts. Let’s take a look at who we think will be on the roster for the long-haul of the season for the running back position.

James White

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James White, also known as, Ol’ reliable, will most definitely be making the roster this year. Entering his eighth season with the Pats, White established himself as being the most dependable offensive player on the team. He always seems to make the right play and understands how the Patriots run the offense. 

White has been utilized as more of a receiver over the years rather than a runner. In doing so, he’s scored the most receiving touchdowns as a running back since he entered the league in 2014. And has also propelled the Patriots to victories, including in the Super Bowl and when it matters the most.

White ranks second among running backs in New England Patriots team history with 25 receiving touchdowns.

Damien Harris

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Damien Harris is poised for a larger role coming out of New England’s backfield, as he enters his third season with the team. He suited up for 10 games last season after only being made available for two games the previous year. In two seasons with the Patriots, Harris has only carried the ball 141 times for 703 yards and scored two touchdowns. 

In many scenarios, it’s fair to say that Harris is an upgraded version of Sony Michel. Physically, both runners have the same build – both under six-feet-tall and weigh around 215 lbs. The mental side of the game is where Harris and Michel differ from each other the most. 

On one hand, Harris is much more fearless and stronger. While on the other, Michel is methodical and shies away from contact regardless of the down situation. 

The construction of New England’s running back depth chart includes players who can bring similar qualities to the table. For example, if Harris can do everything and more better than Michel, then the Pats don’t really need Michel. 

Rhamondre Stevenson 

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The New England Patriots drafted Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round of this past year’s NFL Draft. While at Oklahoma, Stevenson tallied 1,180 rushing yards on 165 carries and scored 13 touchdowns in two years.

Stevenson brings a different element to the running back group that the Pats didn’t necessarily have before the draft. That being a bruiser kind of runner out of the backfield that doesn’t go down without a fight. 

Ironically enough, Stevenson is often compared to LeGarette Blount, who thrived during his multiple stints in New England. At 6’0, 229 lbs, Stevenson is the biggest running back that the Patriots have on their roster. 

Stevenson showed signs of agility and strength so far through the preseason. In fact, during the first week of preseason against Washington, Stevenson broke free for a 91 yard touchdown run. 

JJ Taylor

Patience is the key for Patriots rookie RB J.J. Taylor

This may come as a surprise to most, but JJ Taylor is in a prime position to make the team. He can be utilized in multiple ways and has shown he can be successful when given the opportunity. Versatility is a quality that goes a long way with Coach Belichick. 

Taylor can very well be White’s backup when it comes to the screen plays. I mean, he’s probably one of the fastest guys on the team and all. But he can also be a returner, both on punts and kicks. He leads the team throughout preseason in total yards gained.

Here is what Patriots running backs coach, Ivan Fears, had to say about Taylor.

“He’s a guy that was a hell of a runner in college, and his strong suit is as a runner. He’s a hell of a runner, got great vision, great feet, balance. The kid is a tough kid for a little guy, but he plays big. He plays big, so you love the stuff like that, and he’s got to compete, and he’s doing a great job of competing.” – Ivan Fears, per Chris Mason of MassLive

– Justin Trombino (@Trombino20)

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