Patriots Running Backs Productive On The Fourth Of August 2022

August 8, 2022

This article will update Patriots running backs’ training camp performances, roster status, and my preferred preseason usage of August fourth.

The Patriots have seven running backs on their training camp roster, while only five or six will likely make the team. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will undoubtedly make the team and, barring injuries, be the top two running backs. Pierre Strong Jr. is virtually a lock to make the team out of camp. James White should make it if healthy. J.J. Taylor and Kevin Harris will likely end up on the practice squad, while Ty Montgomery will probably make the team a utility or special teams player.

Running Back Update

Damien Harris

He has taken most of the first-team reps so far in camp, which shows he is still the starter for now and has had a decent but not outstanding camp. The offensive line has improved as camp has come on, which has helped him (and other running backs) improve as camp has gone on.

Harris seems to be committed and in good spirits despite heading into the last year of his contract, and teams are highly reluctant to hand running backs second contracts to running backs, especially ones who are as injury prone as Harris (he missed 22 games in his three seasons) so this could be it in New England and could even be a trade candidate for a draft pick or two. However, I don’t see that happening as long as he is first on the depth chart. Hopefully, he has a massive season to prove he deserves a second contract in New England.

Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson and Harris have gotten virtually all the first team reps which is an excellent sign that he is not being threatened by anyone below him and could challenge Damien Harris to be the number one back (he may get a similar amount of playing time regardless. Stevenson was with the first team in virtually every passing drill and said he worked on his receiving in the offseason to try and get more catches. Could take over James White’s role if White is not healthy.

Pierre Strong Jr.

He could be the James White replacement, at least in a role, if not on the roster. Strong Jr. Was an outstanding pass-catcher at South Dakota State and could be our top pass-catching back. He is currently practicing with the second team, which shows he is likely to make the roster but not possibly to have a huge role. However, he has had a solid camp despite missing a couple of days with an injury. He should have a significant role in the preseason to prove himself.

James White

He is still out injured as he is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and could remain there to start the year. White will have to miss at least the first four games if he starts the regular season there. The players below him will be the biggest winners if he remains injured. If he is healthy, he will primarily play on passing downs, where he excels. From 2015 to 2020, no running back in the NFL had more receptions (364), receiving yards (3,161), and receiving touchdowns (25).

There is a scenario where the players below impress and White is cut. This would save the Pats about one million this year and 2.5 million next year, so if it is close between two players, White may be too one to go. White is the longest-tenured Patriot but has been on the decline for a couple of years now, and hip injuries are very difficult for running backs to recover from.

Ty Montgomery

Extremely versatile weapon who spent most of the OTAs at receiver but is now spending camp as a running back. He could become similar to Cordarrelle Patterson if he can get playing time and a little luck this season. Belichick is the one who put Patterson at running back during our 2018 Super Bowl-winning season, so he is not afraid to do this. He is also getting reps as a returner like Patterson as well. He caught all four passes thrown his way today, which shows chemistry with Mac. Rumors that he could replace James White on the roster.

Kevin Harris

Harris has shown soft hands throughout camp and made the most of his extra reps after Stevenson was out today. He has an uphill battle to make an impact, but will at least make the practice squad but see little to no game action Excited to see what he does in preseason games and is one to watch for the future.

J.J. Taylor

He needs to have an outstanding preseason to avoid being on the practice squad or possibly even released. He has not had an exceptional camp, though, and the dropped pass on a dump-off that would have been a touchdown could be a significant reason he will not make the 53 as he will likely be a backup third-down running back if he makes the squad.

Ideal Preseason Game Plan For Patriots Starters & Bench

I don’t think Harris should play in the preseason as he will have a major role in the offense even if Stevenson passes him for the number one spot and he is injury-prone. Stevenson should only play on passing downs (about ten snaps per game) to work on his receiving as he could have a more significant role in the passing game, but I don’t think he should take any carries. Montgomery should play as many or more snaps as any Patriot at any position and should play at running back, receiver, and returner to show his versatility and have the team see if he could be the next Cordarrelle Patterson.

Pierre Strong Jr. should be featured heavily in the preseason and take a significant amount of reps with any starters who may play to see if he could make an impact this season. James White should not play in preseason even if he somehow becomes healthy enough to play. We still haven’t seen him practice yet.

Kevin Harris should play many snaps with the backups and scout team this preseason. However, he is doubtful to have real playing time, so at least some live game experience will be crucial for his development. Finally, JJ Taylor should feature heavily in the first preseason game to see if he has the potential to make the 53-man roster. If he does well, he should get some snaps in the second and third preseason games with the backups and scout team.

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