But the Pats' reliance on "11 personnel" (3 WR, 1 RB, TE) was not a radical departure from what we have seen in previous games. The idea that the Patriots were using Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett together a ton was not accurate.
The Patriots used three receiver sets with a TE and an RB on 32 snaps and three receiver sets with two RBs and no TE on six snaps. They used a full back with two receivers on 16 snaps and four WRs on eight snaps.
Since Tom Brady's Week 5 return, the Pats have a 55-percent pass, 45-percent run balance. In only one game, the Week 6 win over Cincinnati, did the Patriots throw the ball on 60 percent of their snaps.
Compare that with 2015, when, including the playoffs, the Pats had nine games with at least a 60 percent pass/40 percent run disparity. And in five of those games, they had splits of at least 70 percent pass/30 percent run. The one-dimensional offense was great...until Denver neutralized it and the Pats did not have another dimension to visit.
This year, LeGarrette Blount is on pace for 322 carries, which would rank as the third-most in a single season by any Patriots running back, topped only by Curtis Martin in 1995 (368 carries) and Corey Dillon in 2004 (345 carries). Dion Lewis' return could decrease Blount's individual workload, but there is no reason to believe the team's rushing averages — 29.8 attempts per game — will change.
The 2015 Patriots offense, prolific as it was, had less balance than any New England offense in the Belichick-Brady era. The Pats threw on 62 percent of their offensive snaps and ran on 38 percent, the story said. Blount hasn't lost fantasy value since Brady's return this year and perhaps this is a way of helping prolong Brady's career in the long term. In the short term, Brady is dealing with a knee injury so it doesn't seem likely the team breaks away from the current split.
Friday, October 14, 2016, 6:25pm
Thursday, October 13, 2016, 7:01pm
Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 6:42pm
Friday, October 7, 2016, 6:27pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 5. The Patriots “do not sound concerned” (per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald), so Blount should be fine for a nice matchup against the Browns. The Patriots play early on Sunday.
Thursday, October 6, 2016, 6:05pm
Wednesday, October 5, 2016, 6:35pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Blount should be fine to face the Browns this week. Given Cleveland’s 4.3 YPC allowed, this could be a “Blount game,” though we fully expect Tom Brady to come out firing on all cylinders.
Capable of playing on all three downs, RB Bishop Sankey should have an opportunity in New England. The Pats are set with their pass-catching backs in James White and undrafted rookie D.J. Foster, but they have virtually no depth behind LeGarrette Blount. If Blount gets off to a slow start, or if injuries hit, Sankey could find himself on the team's 53-man roster.
Even the return of Dion Lewis won't add depth behind Blount. We've seen reports the team is trying to turn White into more of a dual threat - a back to catch passes but also run the ball. Especially without QB Tom Brady for four games, the Pats would rather not show their hand as far as pass or run is concerned based on what RB is in the backfield.
The New England Patriots released veteran running back Donald Brown on Tuesday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates, as an early-camp injury ultimately doomed Brown's chances of sticking on the roster at a position where the club is thin.
Brown, who signed a one-year, $965,000 contract with the Patriots on March 17, was competing for a backup spot behind LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, the latter of whom will open the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list as he will undergo a second surgery on his left knee.
Brown had pulled up in the fifth practice of training camp -- members of the athletic training staff appeared to be checking his hamstring -- and hadn't been a full participant in practice since. He didn't play in the team's first two preseason games.
By releasing him, the Patriots thin their ranks at a position that was already short on depth. Blount is the top power option, while third-year man James White projects to step in for Lewis as the top "passing back" until his return. The team also has Brandon Bolden (5th year), Tyler Gaffney (3rd year), Joey Iosefa (2nd year) and undrafted rookie D.J. Foster at running back. Yesterday we reported White is getting more running reps. Brown, if healthy, was an option to both run the ball and receive to keep defenses guessing a little.
Running back Dion Lewis will be sidelined for another 8-10 weeks after he endures a second surgery on his left knee, according to a source. The ACL, which was repaired in November, is OK, but the Patriots’ medical staff determined they need to clean up an unspecified area in the knee.
The procedure is viewed as “relatively minor,” and Lewis has a good chance of playing in 2016, according to the source.
Assuming Lewis remains on the PUP list during the regular season, he can begin practicing at any point between Oct. 18 and Nov. 22. Once Lewis starts practicing, the Patriots will have 21 days to either promote him to the active roster or shut him down for the remainder of the season. The Pats could technically drag out that decision until Dec. 13.
It's good to hear that his ACL is "OK." Eight weeks would put Lewis back on Oct. 16, so he could conceivably return for Week 7 at Pittsburgh. The Patriots have a Week 9 bye, so the team could elect to give him an extra few weeks of recovery to return in Week 10 vs. Seattle. For now, we'll assume he misses the first eight games. James White should produce RB2 numbers in PPR and LeGarrette Blount should provide fantasy starter numbers when the Patriots don't face an elite run defense. The Patriots could add a running back as camp cuts continue. Lewis is worth consideration as a late-round pick, especially in leagues with deep benches and/or an injured reserve slot.
This one stings, as Lewis was shaping up as a great value in the 4th/5th round after looking good in spring practices. It's not clear what sort of surgery Lewis needs. If it's a scope, he might only be out a month, but if they need to do a ligament repair, it will take longer. (Update: Adam Schefter described it as a "clean up" procedure, which makes it possible that he will return at some point in the season.) In the meantime, James White is likely to take his place in the lineup. White averaged 6.7 touches (including 4.7 catches on 6.4 T/G) for 53.1 yards and 0.57 touchdowns in seven games that Lewis was sidelined. That equates to solid RB1 numbers in PPR formats (RB2 in standard). He's not going to get the running work that Lewis would have, but he should take over the pass-catching role and turn in RB2 numbers in PPR formats. The news also gives LeGarrette Blount a bump, since he's likely to see a few extra carries assuming he remains in the "big back" role. Tyler Gaffney is pushing Blount for work, but Blount has run well in the preseason.
Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears is looking for LeGarrette Blount to return to his "dominant" self.
"I want to see the LeGarrette that I know can be a dominant player when he's playing up his stuff," Fears said. "I want to see him get back to that. He's been hurt, he's been away from us. There's a lot of opportunity there for him. Let's see what he can do. There's got to be some consistency in his play, there's got to be production. Of course with his size we expect to see some physicality."
When Fears says there is "a lot of opportunity" for Blount, he's not lying.
Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, the Patriots did not draft a bigger back, or any back, in April. They signed undrafted rookie D.J. Foster, a pure pass-catching back, and they signed veteran Donald Brown, who can play all three downs but has never been a 15-20 carry-per-game guy.
In theory, Blount should be in fine position to secure a roster spot and earn carries, the story said. He did not participate in the spring and is returning from a season-ending hip injury, so it'll be important that his conditioning is up to par. Either way, Dion Lewis is going to figure into this offense as well at the RB position, whether or not Blount is part of that 1-2 punch remains to be seen, but it sounds like the team wants him to.
Blount had a season-ending hip injury last December.
With quarterbacks, rehabbing players and rookies already reporting to training camp, we now have more clarity on the status of Blount. Thanks to a training camp preview video from Patriots.com, which showed parts of Monday's practice, it is confirmed that Blount passed his initial medical tests at training camp and is cleared to practice.
We had a good idea of this yesterday as well, when the Pats announced who was starting camp on the PUP list and Blount's name wasn't listed. Blount will probably be the "2" in a 1-2 punch with Dion Lewis. In the six games in which they both played, Lewis averaged 11.0 touches (5.3 rec) for 84 yards and 0.66 TD, which extrapolates to high-end RB1 numbers both PPR and standard formats. Meanwhile, Blount averaged 16.3 touches for 80 yards (4.74 YPC) and 1.0 TD in the six games that Lewis also played. Blount slipped down the stretch, averaging 13.4 carries for 51 yards (3.61 YPC) and 0.20 TD in his final five games with Lewis sidelined. James White, Donald Brown and Brandon Bolden figure to compete, but this is shaping up to be a Lewis/Blount backfield.
Running back LeGarrette Blount's return from a season-ending hip injury, suffered in December, Bears watching as it relates to his roster status. Blount, who signed a modest one-year deal as a free agent to return in 2016, didn't practice in the spring. If he returns to full health and runs hard like he did at times in 2015, there shouldn't be any issues. But that isn't a given based on the present snapshot.
The Patriots' lack of urgency at the running back position indicates that they believe that Blount will be ready for camp, though they could go another direction once camp cuts start to occur. The most likely scenario is that Blount is the "2" in a 1-2 punch with Dion Lewis. In the six games in which they both played, Lewis averaged 11.0 touches (5.3 rec) for 84 yards and 0.66 TD, which extrapolates to high-end RB1 numbers both PPR and standard formats. Meanwhile, Blount averaged 16.3 touches for 80 yards (4.74 YPC) and 1.0 TD in the six games that Lewis also played. Blount slipped down the stretch, averaging 13.4 carries for 51 yards (3.61 YPC) and 0.20 TD in his final five games with Lewis sidelined.
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