The battle at running back should be a fun one to watch this preseason. They have so many options and not enough spots for everybody. They will most likely stick to keeping around 4 or 5 for the many situations they use different running backs for. Keep in mind one of those spots is most likely taken by James Develin already to blow people up in the power I.
James White – I would be surprised to see White anywhere else next season. He has pretty much locked himself in as the best receiving back on the team. Not many guys are as consistent and shifty as he is, and unless he has some sort of off field issues he should find himself in the same role he has had the past couple years.
Rex Burkhead – Burkhead is the most versatile running back the Pats had last season. He is very good at pounding the ball in short yardage situations. He can come out of the backfield and catch passes and make some big plays. He can also split out to the slot and make plays that way. His only downfall has been the injury issues he had. As long as he makes it through the preseason healthy, he should keep his roster spot.
Sony Michel – The unproven rookie. He seems like the perfect fit for the future of the Josh McDaniels offense. He is another versatile back, similar to Dion Lewis last season. I would find it hard to believe the Pats would cut their first round pick, so he will most likely be on the roster. It’s also possible that he could start to steal snaps from James White as the season goes on, but only time will tell.
Mike Gillislee – This is where the real battle is. Gillislee was supposed to be what Burkhead is. In Buffalo he was a great pass catcher, and a very dynamic player out of the backfield in different situations. He started the season with a 3 TD performance, and turned into a potato the rest of the season, and was a healthy scratch at the end of the year. It will take a seriously impressive performance for him to win a spot on the team.
Jeremy Hill – This is the guy that will threaten Gillislee’s spot. He is a great short yardage back, and is very powerful. The Bengals just decided they wanted to go in a different direction with Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. I think Hill is still a talented back who should be the early down horse on the Pats next season. He can bang inside with the big boys, and has the ability to turn loose some long runs.
Brandon Bolden – I’ll make this one short and sweet. Should he be on the roster? Probably not. Will he be on the roster? Probably. Will he be a running back? Probably for like 4 plays. Bill just won’t let him go, so expect him back next year.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)