Patriots Face Uncertainty At Running Back Position With Dion Lewis Undergoing Surgery, Team Should Consider Bringing In Another Running Back
The New England Patriots received bad news regarding the injury status of running back Dion Lewis. The 25-year-old running back, who tore his left ACL last Nov. 8 against Washington, will need a second knee surgery, according to a report from the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.
CSNNE’s Tom Curran reported that the knee surgery is not to repair the ACL while ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the “clean-up” procedure will keep Lewis out “indefinitely.”. Lewis walked around the locker room on Sunday without a limp according to reports, his presence on the field will be missed after he had a breakout first half of the 2015 season before suffering what was a season ending injury.
The Patriots now have a likely opening day backfield of:
- LeGarrette Blount
- James White
- Brandon Bolden
- Donald Brown
Others on the depth chart currently are Joey Iosefa, Tyler Gaffney, and D.J. Foster. Outside of Blount and White none of these players are proven NFL running backs. Bolden is a turnover machine and Brown along with Foster are suffering from lingering injuries. Blount even has had a history of injuries and suspensions. Relying on James White in the running game is foolish considering his greatest asset to the team is catching the ball out of the back field.
Belichick can rely on the chance that players like Gaffney and Iosefa have break out seasons and break all expectations that have been placed on them. There is a chance that happens, but with Tom Brady suspended the first four weeks of the season it would be nice if Jimmy Garoppolo has a solid running core to rely on to help open up the passing game.
Patriots Have Several Options To Help Improve Running Back Core
At this point in the pre-season it is a little late to look for outside help to improve positions, but thankfully their are several solid options for the Patriots to look at in free agency in regards to running backs.
Here are some of the top options:
- Ray Rice
- Zac Stacey
- Roy Helu
- Karlos Williams
- Pierre Thomas
Ray Rice is still a free agent several years removed from his domestic abuse case that caused him to get banished from the league. He was a solid back who was trending downward when he left the league, but he has had years off and is reportedly in shape. Rice is a splashy PR nightmare with a lot of baggage, but the Patriots are the kind of team that can handle it. Rice is currently trying to get his indefinite suspension removed and is close to doing so if a team decides to sign him, Rice has turned his personal life around and the Pat’s could be the team to give him a second chance.
Rice is the highest upside candidate on the free agent list, but he is unlikely to get signed by any team at this point. The other potential candidates are a lot less flashy, but they have some upside. Pierre Thomas for example has played his entire career with the Saints and has been a reliable back to throw out for a drive or two a game. The more interesting names to me are Karlos Williams and Zac Stacey, both of whom have shown menses talent in the NFL but have yet to put it all together.
Losing Dion Lewis for an extended period of time while Garoppolo is the QB is not ideal, ultimately I think Belichick will roll with his current RB unit. I think a player like Gaffney could make the opening day roster and see a few snaps and might have a breakout year.