The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at running back Donald Brown.
Name: Donald Brown
Position: Running back
Jersey number: 34
Size: 5'10, 205 lbs.
2015 review: Brown’s seventh season in the NFL – his second with the San Diego Chargers – was mediocre at best. After being inactive the first three games of the season, the team released the veteran but brought him back two days later. After missing one game as a free agent, he was inactive the next two with the Chargers.
Brown finally saw some time on the field after the team placed fellow running back Branden Oliver on injured reserve. Overall, Brown appeared in nine games last season, playing a mere 10.9% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps. He finished the season with a career-low 317 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown on 59 rushes (for 229 yards and a score) eight catches for 88 yards.
In March, San Diego released Brown. Two weeks later, the Patriots signed him to a one-year, $985,000 contract.
2016 preview: Donald Brown’s role on the 2016 Patriots is hard to predict. While he is a talented player that had to play one some poorly talented offenses over the course of his career, he struggled to even see the field on the 4-12 Chargers last season. Still, in Foxboro he will at least get his chance to show that his career is not yet over.
The 29-year old competes for a backup running back spot behind presumptive roster locks Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount. Brown is more of a receiving back in the mold of Lewis and needs to fight off young backs James White and D.J. Foster. His biggest weapons in this fight are his experience and his pass-blocking skills.
If Brown is able to take advantage of them and quickly and consistently adapt to New England’s offense and his role within it, then he might have a realistic chance to make the team. If not – or if the younger runners show more potential – then he won’t survive roster cuts.
Seeing Donald Brown make the roster would not be a surprise. Seeing Donald Brown get the boot would not be a surprise either. In the end, it all comes down to whether or not he is able to take the chance, the Patriots gave him: to revive his career as a member of one of the league’s most potent offenses and become a valuable role player for the team.