New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis tore his ACL against Washington on November 8th, 2015. Over one year and multiple knee surgeries later, Lewis is ready to return to the field. Lewis has been activated to the Patriots 53-man roster prior to facing the Seattle Seahawks, per ESPN’s Field Yates.
The Patriots have officially activated RB Dion Lewis to the 53-man roster, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 12, 2016
Lewis was one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL last season, averaging 95 yards from scrimmage and 0.5 touchdowns per game prior to his injury. He was an incredible receiving threat out of the backfield and was responsible for one of the most jaw-dropping touchdowns of the year.
The Patriots have relied on James White in Lewis’ absence and White has averaged about 50 yards from scrimmage per game- not the same as Lewis because White is not as strong of a runner, although White is just as talented as a receiver.
“I think James White is good; is a good player,” head coach Bill Belichick said this week. “What he does is good. Could somebody do it better? I mean I don’t know. But it would take quite a bit I would say based on where he is and how consistent he’s been with what he’s done. It would take somebody playing pretty good to be better than him.”
Lewis can’t be expected to be a full contributor in his first game back from injury, but a three or four game adjustment period would make sense so he can get used to the contact and cutting on his knee. White and LeGarrette Blount have played very well this season so there’s no need to rush Lewis back.
In 2015, Lewis played roughly two-thirds of the offensive snaps when healthy. White has exceeded 50% of the snaps just once all year. Look for Lewis to play a couple drives in his first few games back to get his feet wet before increasing his workload closer to his 2015 usage rates.
The Patriots have also officially signed RB Tyler Gaffney and TE Kennard Backman to the practice squad. The 6’3, 245 pound Backman was a 6th round pick by the Packers in 2015 and did not record any stats in his 7 games on the active roster. He has a 4.66 second 40 yard dash, with more of a “move tight end” build instead of an “inline tight end.”
The Patriots have released TE Austin Taylor from the practice squad. The Patriots had a second opening on the practice squad after the Jets signed DT Anthony Johnson.