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Mike Reiss: Patriots RB Dion Lewis ACL Recovery "Has Been Encouraging"

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The New England Patriots rushing attack vanished with the loss of running back Dion Lewis in week 9 against Washington. Prior to Lewis suffering a major ACL injury, the Patriots were consistently averaging better than 4.0 yards per carry; the team only reached that mark once over the remaining ten post-injury games of the season.

So the return of Lewis is crucial for the Patriots rushing attack, and we have some good news. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Lewis' recovery is "exactly where they should be, if not better."

Reiss adds that "the Patriots still figure to take it slowly with Lewis this offseason and perhaps even into training camp, but at this point, there's no reason to think Lewis won't be available for when the games count."

The return of Lewis would be fantastic for the offense because he's not only a great running back, but he also makes the rest of the players around him better. With Lewis providing quality play at running back, the offensive line will be better able to protect Tom Brady on passing downs because the play action will actual provide a threat of a run.

There was no point during the early part of 2015 where both Lewis and James White were involved in the offense, but perhaps we'll see some two-running back wrinkles early on with both of the dynamic pass catching running backs coming out of the backfield.

Hopefully Lewis can come back at a high level, similar to tight end Rob Gronkowski's return after the 2013 season.