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Patriots RB Mike Gillislee should be an excellent replacement for LeGarrette Blount

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The former Bills rusher is one of the most physical running backs in the league.

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With a few minicamps in the book, we have a general idea of what the New England Patriots believe they have in RB Mike Gillislee. He is a physical runner with great burst at the line of scrimmage that will ultimately replace LeGarrette Blount in the offense.

Gillislee hasn’t been participating with the other pass-catching backs like James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and D.J. Foster, but the Herald’s Jeff Howe notes that Gillislee has been working on his hands with the scout team offense. He’s primarily used as a rusher.

It’s hard to get a sense of Gillislee’s ability because of the lack of contact, but we have a few videos of him in action in rushing drills.

Gillislee will be a part of a rotation in the backfield, but he has a clear path to take on the bulk of Blount’s vacated 47% of the offensive snaps, even if he doesn’t play all of them.

Over the past two seasons, the former Bills running back holds a league-best 5.70 yards per carry rate over a non-insignificant sample size. Last year, Gillislee owned the third-highest yards after contact rate and the third-highest rate of 15+ yard rushes, showing both power and explosion. He also flashed elusiveness by ranking eighth for missed tackles.

Even if Gillislee brings nothing to the table as a receiver (and he saw passing targets at twice the rate of Blount over the past two seasons), he should improve over Blount’s contributions as a rusher.

I still think that, assuming everyone remains healthy, Gillislee will see roughly a third of the snaps, and that White, Lewis, and Burkhead will split up the remaining opportunities. There will be a lot of “riding the hot hand” this upcoming season, and I see every reason for Gillislee to be on fire behind the Patriots offensive line.