Help is coming for the Patriots' beleaguered running back corps.
The team is expected to sign veteran free agent Steven Jackson, ESPN and NFL Network reported.
Jackson could jump right in and have an impact, but would obviously be a risky fantasy play for Week 16 if this is your finals. Considering newly promoted Joey Iosefa led the Patriots in rushing with 51 yards in Sunday's win, Jackson could do just fine in this offense. Jackson likely will assume the role of Blount, as the inside runner, while James White remains the third down option. The team just doesn't seem to trust Brandon Bolden enough for a bigger role week-to-week.
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) was removed from the injury report Friday. Blount is done for the year. Brandon Bolden takes over as the early-down thumper, while receiving specialist James White could see a few carries as well.
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 6:06pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) was removed from the injury report Thursday. Blount is done for the year. Brandon Bolden takes over as the early-down thumper, while receiving specialist James White could see a few carries as well. The team is reportedly kicking the tires on Steven Jackson as well.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:21pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) did not practice Wednesday. Blount is done for the year. Brandon Bolden takes over as the early-down thumper, while receiving specialist James White could see a few carries as well. The team is reportedly kicking the tires on Steven Jackson as well.
The team will place the running back on injured reserve, ESPN and WEEI reported.
Blount injured his left hip in the 27-6 victory over the Texans on Sunday. He was hurt in the second quarter, and walked off on the field under his own power.
Blount was injured in the second quarter on a 6-yard run with 8:14 remaining, and as he lay prone on the ground, members of the Patriots' athletic training and medical staff flexed his leg as they worked on his hip.
Blount then walked off the field under his own power and to the locker room.
He had been productive up to that point, with 10 carries for 53 yards.
His primary replacement is four-year veteran Brandon Bolden, and the team also has second-year player James White, who fills more of a "passing back" role, the story said. With Blount's availability in question for this week, and perhaps beyond, the Patriots might consider adding another running back to the 53-man roster. Undrafted rookie Trey Williams is the lone running back on the practice squad. It's certainly a situation to keep an eye on but keep in mind Patriot RBs can be risky plays, especially this time of the fantasy season.
For one, not since Weeks 6-8 of the 2013 season has Blount (as a Patriot) gone three straight games without reaching the endzone.
In the three games leading up to his matchup with Philly, Tampa Bay's Doug Martin had 52 carries for 165 yards (3.2 per attempt). Against Philly, Martin carried 27 times for 235 yards. Carolina's Jonathan Stewart wasn't exactly rolling into his Week 7 game versus the Eagles, having rushed 79 times for 298 yards, 3.8 per carry. But against the Eagles....Stewart went for 125 yards on 24 attempts.
Friday, October 16, 2015, 6:15pm
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (abdomen, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 6. White’s return to practice on Friday is a good sign for his Week 6 availability, but the Patriots play on Sunday night, so owners may want to pick up James White (or better yet LeGarrette Blount, if he’s available) as insurance.
Thursday, October 15, 2015, 6:18pm
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (abdomen) was added to the injury report Thursday after taking limited practice reps. Midweek downgrades are a bad sign, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Lewis will miss Week 6. His participation on Friday will be key. If he’s out, James White should take over Lewis’s role on passing downs, though most of his carries likely will go to LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots play on Sunday night, so a potential headache is brewing.
Surely, Lewis is one of the best stories in the NFL this season. He entered the NFL in 2011, and he has nearly twice as many yards from scrimmage in three games with the Patriots (325) than in 24 games with the Eagles (192).
When discussing Lewis, Fears mentioned another running back, Travaris Cadet, who missed virtually the entire month of August with a hamstring injury but still made the 53-man roster.
Fears first brought up Cadet when he was asked why Lewis didn't have success elsewhere before coming to New England.
"He might not have gotten a shot, or he could have been just like Cadet, pulled a hammy early and just missed too much of practices and all of a sudden you don't know," Fears said. "(Lewis) may have never really gotten a shot. It's just hard to get a shot once you get going into the season."
Three weeks in, Cadet has been inactive twice and has logged just one touch -- a receiver screen that went for two yards against the Bills. Given the way Lewis has played and the presence of LeGarrette Blount, it may be hard for Cadet to get a shot. As Fears said, "he's just got to take advantage of his opportunity when it comes."
The story pointed out: running backs are often injured, and opportunities come up for backups frequently. Look at Lewis' path: Cadet suffered his hamstring injury on Aug. 8, and Lewis returned from a hamstring injury of his own on Aug. 15. Blount, meanwhile, missed practice from Aug. 7 to Aug. 11 with a knee tweak. This isn't to say that Cadet needs an injury to occur for him to get on the field, the story added. His skill set is unique, and the Pats may very well see him as more of a receiver than a running back. In certain gameplans, Cadet's route-running ability could earn him significant snaps. One just never knows what the Pats will do, but they have a couple of options behind Lewis when it comes to pass-catching RBs.
The Patriots loosened up the Jaguars by primarily using Lewis in the first half, playing him on 28 of 36 offensive snaps. Blount wasn't much of a factor in the first half, on for just eight snaps, as the initial plan called for more spread passing formations and a sprinkling of runs from Lewis that included a dynamic 6-yard stop-and-start touchdown.
The Patriots took a 20-3 lead into halftime and then called on Blount as the closer. He played 21 snaps in the second half, compared to just seven for Lewis, powering in for three touchdowns and making plenty of fantasy football owners happy in the process.
By the end of the day, Lewis led all Patriots running backs with 35 snaps played. He finished with eight rushes for 37 yards and one touchdown, to go along with five catches for 30 yards. Blount wasn't far behind, totaling 29 snaps and 18 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns, while adding one reception for 14 yards. It doesn't look like this combo is going away any time soon, but you just never know with the Patriots running game.
Despite fumbles, Patriots 'still high' on Dion Lewis, but expect 'a bit more' LeGarrette Blount in Week 3Friday, September 25, 2015, 11:49am
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss:
The Patriots are still high on shifty running back Dion Lewis despite his fumbling in each of the first two games of the season. At the same time, word is that we should see a bit more of LeGarrette Blount than we did Sunday against the Bills, when he played just seven snaps.
Lewis is on pace for 256 touches, and he's going to have a tough time holding up to that type of workload. We expect the Patriots will deploy Blount in favorable matchups, and Week 2's matchup against the Bills was not favorable. The Jaguars are only giving up 2.9 YPC, including 3.1 YPC to Jonathan Stewart and 1.4 YPC to Lamar Miller. So this week's matchup may not be as favorable as it might seem, given the competition.
Brandon Bolden has previously filled the role of starting running back, but never consistently. He has registered only three career games of 10+ carries.
This past year, Bolden never carried more than five times in a game; in Week 16 against the Jets, when LeGarrette Blount was injured, Bolden carried five times, Jonas Gray carried six times and Shane Vereen carried six times.
We could see a similar distribution between Bolden, James White and Dion Lewis Thursday (although the overall number of attempts might be slightly higher, because the Jets dominated time of possession in that Week 16 game).
Pittsburgh ranked 6th in rush defense and 27th in pass defense a year ago, so the Pats -- also thin at wide receiver with Brandon LaFell on PUP and Reggie Wayne cut -- could feature lots of Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler. If Travaris Cadet is available, he could figure into the passing game, too. This may not be a 25-carry game on the ground.
The position that must sort it self out is the pass-catching, change-of-pace back. Whoever it is should have a fairly significant role in the offense. Right now, the first choice has to be Lewis, who displayed terrific change-of-direction and underrated power when given the opportunity in the preseason. Lewis can pass protect and has enough punch to run between the tackles.
The good news is once Blount returns Week 2, if healthy, the story said he should lead the team in attempts, yards and TDs for the season. In terms of pass catching, White has proved slippery in the open field, as well as Lewis. And Cadet hasn't proven anything as a member of the Patriots, which should be an indication of how much the team likes him. They kept him around despite not seeing him at all in the preseason due to a hamstring injury, the story went on to say. After what should be a committee approach Week 1, signs continue to point to Blount as the main back, but there remains three pass-catching options which could cause headaches for fantasy owners.
It appears Jonas Gray will end his New England career as a one-game wonder.
The former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame is set to be cut or traded by the Patriots, according to ESPN's Field Yates.
Gray made history against the Colts last November, becoming the first player since at least 1940 to rush for as many touchdowns (four) as the rest of the NFL combined on a given Sunday. He pounded out 199 yards on 38 carries in a game plan specifically designed to exploit Indianapolis' soft interior.
The Week-11 sensation promptly landed in coach Bill Belichick's doghouse for oversleeping and missing practice the next week. An afterthought following the late-season addition of LeGarrette Blount, Gray was a healthy scratch in Super Bowl XLIX.
Although Gray reeled off a 55-yard touchdown run early in the preseason, his lack of high-end speed was noticeable, the story said. As it stands now, the Patriots will enter the season with Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis, James White and Travaris Cadet in the backfield while Blount serves a one-game suspension. Neither of those four backs are really bell cow type backs. Lewis, White and Cadet all excel in pass-catching roles mostly. It appears Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh will be a committee rushing attack.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 4:52pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount participated in 11-on-11s for the first time since injuring his knee Aug. 7. He slowly worked his way back by running uphill sprints Monday and taking more practice reps Tuesday.
Blount continues to trend upward from a knee injury. He'll be out Week 1 because of a suspension, which may help his progress. He remains one of our RBs to target in the early middle rounds.
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