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.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 8:49pm
Pats seem to be taking slow with him. Blount had no damage to his knee a report stated on Monday.
The Patriots got some good news on the medical front, apparently avoiding a major injury to a key part of their offense.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, running back LeGarrette Blount’s MRI came back negative, meaning there’s no structural damage to his right knee. Blount was apparently well enough to be running sprints on a hill today, so last week’s injury turned out to be a false alarm.
It was previously reported as an MCL sprain, so it’s reasonable to assume he’s going to be ready to start the regular season when he’s eligible. He’s suspended for Week 1 because of last year’s marijuana arrest from his Steelers days, the story added.
The source said Blount will be ready for the start of the regular season. The NFL suspended Blount for the first game, against Pittsburgh, because of an incident last season while he was a member of the Steelers.
Blount has an extra week to heal due to the one-game suspension. Blount was reportedly practicing very well prior to the injury, so this injury does not change our opinion of him. He's a great value in the 6th/7th round. For more about his value, be sure to read Senior Editor John Paulsen's spotlight on Blount.
Bad news for the Patriots as LeGarrette Blount left the field very slowly. Blount has been far and away their best RB all week. I can't overstate how good Blount had been all week. Practiced way above my expectations, for whatever that's worth.
Blount had failed the team's conditioning test, according to the Boston Globe. He missed the team's first two practices.
Blount ranks 21st on our list as a low-end RB2 in 12-team leagues who has an ADP of the seventh round. He certainly has a chance to present nice value around that time of drafts, perhaps maybe even as an RB3 or flex play in 10 team league. Of course, he is suspended for Week 1, which drops his value a bit on our list.
No reason was given for the move, but players who have been placed on NFI prior to the start of camp in year’s past have often found themselves there because they have failed the conditioning test and/or their physical.
Update: Ben Volin reported that Blount ended up on the NFI after failing his conditioning test.
This is probably nothing to worry about, but we'll monitor the situation throughout camp. It’s always dicey to buy into the New England running game, but Blount has been good while toting the ball for the Patriots. Since 2013, he has averaged 11.3 touches for 57 yards and 0.65 TD in 26 games. Those are solid RB2 numbers in standard (low-end RB2 in PPR). However, in his last 15 games with the Patriots (including the postseason), he has turned 14.2 touches into 73 yards and 1.0 TD; those are strong and low-end RB1 numbers in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Granted, he tends to score his points in bunches -- e.g. 30 carries, 148 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts in January -- but he’s been getting pretty consistent run since December of 2013, registering at least 10 carries in 11 of his last 15 games with the Patriots. Given his 6th round ADP, he should be a fine target as a RB3, or as a RB2 for the “wait on RB” crowd. For more on Blount, check out this article by Sr. Editor John Paulsen.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported earlier Tuesday that Bell was negotiating a settlement with the NFL to reduce his suspension to one or two games.
Bell was suspended in April for his August 2014 arrest on charges of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Bell was arrested while driving to the airport for a preseason game with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, who now plays for the New England Patriots, was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and will be suspended for the first game of the 2015 season. Bell was suspended an additional two games because of the DUI charge.
Bell is now our #1 RB in PPR formats and is coming in at #2 in standard formats, though brave owners should probably still take him first overall knowing that they can pair him with a replacement back. Maybe more importantly, Bell was a full go at training camp. There was some concern about a lingering knee injury, though it looks like that’s behind him now.
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