The Patriots have many weapons at their disposal, but the backfield seems to be a strength. The duo of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson has proved that over the last five games with 11 touchdowns combined.
The “damien harris” is a powerful running back for the New England Patriots. He was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Alongside him, his teammate Rhamondre Stevenson has been impressing with his speed and power.
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — Bill Belichick hasn’t depended on a primary running back in his 22 years as coach of the New England Patriots with rare exceptions.
Belichick’s committee style has irritated fantasy football managers in the past, and with titles on the horizon, it’ll happen again in 2021. In real-life football, though, the two-is-better-than-one philosophy has fueled the Patriots’ six-game winning run as they prepare to face the Buffalo Bills on Monday night (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The last two games have been very revealing.
Damien Harris has already begun. Then youngster Rhamondre Stevenson joins the game on the second series. On the next series, Harris takes over. Then there’s Stevenson.
Harris finished with 47 snaps and Stevenson with 42 in a real series-by-series rotation.
Starting right tackle Trent Brown stated, “It’s one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL.” “Both of them men run fast and hard. They also make us seem excellent in front of the camera.”
They also assist rookie quarterback Mac Jones in staying safe, which has aided his development. A strong running game also creates play-action passing possibilities, something Jones has used in the past.
Harris, a 5-foot-11, 213-pound third-round selection from Alabama in 2019, leads the Patriots with 154 carries for 643 yards and eight touchdowns (4.2 average).
Stevenson, a 6-foot-226-pound Oklahoma fourth-round selection in 2021, has 76 carries for 351 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
“They’re fantastic.’ Mondre has improved significantly in recent games. Damien has been dependable, but they complement each other well “Hunter Henry, a seasoned tight end, said.
“They’re both rather large. They both have excellent eyesight. Cuts. Speed. They have everything you could ever want. They’re also receiving the ball in the backfield. It’s a lot of joy to block for those kind of players because they make your job a lot simpler.”
Brandon Bolden, who generally enters on third down, is paired with Harris and Stevenson as a “passing back.” The vacuum left by veteran James White’s season-ending injury on Oct. 17 has been filled by Bolden.
“We have faith in all of our backs. They’ve all worked hard “According to Belichick.
All three, according to ESPN Monday Night Football commentator Louis Riddick, are contributing in various ways.
“Harris’ physicality as a runner sets the tone. Bolden seems to be the blocker they trust in the passing game when it comes to protection and consistency. And Stevenson is by far the most skilled, and as a runner and receiver, he will outperform both of the other two “Riddick said. “[Stevenson] possesses all of the tools you need: size, speed, agility, and hands. He is still climbing and will continue to play a larger and larger role as time passes.”
The Patriots rank 12th in the NFL with 115.3 running yards per game before Monday’s contest. Their 4.1 yards per carry rank 19th, but it doesn’t necessarily represent how the running game has helped them establish a physical presence that has become a key element of their offensive identity.
“The way they’ve been playing is reflective of the way this whole team has been playing,” starting left guard Ted Karras said of Harris and Stevenson. “Those two have played a significant role in our recent triumph.”
Maintaining a youthful appearance
Belichick often claims that every move he takes is made to help the team win, and he can point to the 2004 season as a shining example of his willingness to rely on a lead running back. That was the year Corey Dillon set the club single-season record with 345 carries for 1,635 yards.
Other years, like as Stevan Ridley’s 290 carries in 2012 and LeGarrette Blount’s 299 in 2016, have seen the majority of the early-down burden go to a single back, but Belichick has usually preferred a committee.
Last week, he indicated there’s no particular rationale for the choices, which Harris and Stevenson say they’re OK with.
Damien Harris is on his way to a big win! #ForeverNE @DHx34
: NFL app pic.twitter.com/7jke2cgn2n #TENvsNE on CBS
November 28, 2021 — NFL (@NFL)
“To be honest, it’s been fantastic,” Harris added. “Rotating players keeps them fresh, allowing us to keep going out there and executing and playing effectively. Finally, we’re all in this together; everyone on this team has a part to play and a task to complete. So, no matter what time your name is called, you must go out and make a play. We’re all in it together.”
Stevenson, a Las Vegas native who was named outstanding offensive player of the 2020 Cotton Bowl after leading the Sooners to a 55-20 victory against Florida by running 18 times for 186 yards and a score, said the Patriots’ all-for-one mentality is his favorite feature.
“It’s something I like doing, particularly with my son Damien. I believe that my game and Damien’s compliment each other extremely nicely. It’s a wonderful change of pace, in my opinion “he said “Brandon is also hiding in the shadows. It’s great joy for all of us to have a chance to perform what we do best. Each of us brings a unique running technique to the table.”
The coaching staff has praised them for their willingness to share the burden.
Assistant running backs coach Vinnie Sunseri stated, “They’re very wonderful teammates and work extremely well together.” “They’ve taken on those responsibilities. It is embraced by them.”
Accepting responsibility for their errors
Earlier this season, Harris and Stevenson overcame difficulties to establish themselves as a formidable duo.
The @Patriots take the lead thanks to Rhamondre Stevenson’s first NFL touchdown! #ForeverNE
: NFL app pic.twitter.com/8YryhwYSNk #DALvsNE on CBS
October 17, 2021 — NFL (@NFL)
When the team was driving for a possible winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter of a surprising 17-16 season-opening home defeat to the Miami Dolphins, Harris lost a fumble. At a moment when other players would have preferred to avoid dealing with reporters after the game, Harris stood out and declared he wouldn’t let the fumble define him.
Stevenson also fumbled and missed a blitz pickup in that game, earning him a three-game suspension. He returned to the lineup for two games before being sidelined against the New York Jets on Oct. 24, which running backs coach Ivan Fears said was due to his continuing to acclimatize to the team’s hard-driving mentality. Stevenson has returned for the last five games and is continuing to gain ground.
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“Each of their circumstances is unique, and their paths this year have clearly been quite different,” said Matthew Slater, the team’s longest-serving player.
“Rhamondre… he’s been trained quite hard, and I believe he’s reacted admirably.” He has stayed modest enough to accept the guidance and is continuing to improve. All you can ask of a young player is that.
“Early in the year, Damien had some terrible breaks, but I don’t believe his mentality altered. He did an excellent job of putting the incident behind him. That’s how football works. That kind of thing is bound to happen.”
Harris and Stevenson were described by Belichick as “larger, tough players,” and Jones claimed the offense’s basis is built on Isaiah Wynn, Karras, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Brown.
When the Patriots throw fullback Jakob Johnson into the lineup, he offers a physical edge, and the tight ends, headed by Henry and Jonnu Smith, naturally enter into the run-blocking mix.
It’s not uncommon to watch Harris and Stevenson charge forward, mowing down opponents, which can be inspiring.
“When they’re completing runs like that, it just makes you want to block a little bit more, do a little bit more,” Henry said. “They’re going to make plays, so just hold your block a little longer and a huge play will occur.”
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