New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis split time with Brandon Bolden in the first half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Teammates like James White, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee didn’t suit up- whether due to status as a starter or due to injury.
The Patriots rested all of their starters and most of their top back-ups against the Jaguars, and yet Lewis played. He didn’t have to suit up. Running backs Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster, and LeShun Daniels could have played the entire game as they are truly on the roster bubble.
But Lewis played for one of three reasons:
- The Patriots were shorthanded at running back and simply needed to spread the reps around. On the same note, the team was forced to play Cyrus Jones at safety due to injury, so having Lewis available added to the depth at the position.
- The coaching staff thought that Lewis needed time on the field after coming back slowly from an injury in 2016 and finishing the year with a hamstring issue.
- Lewis is actually on the roster bubble and is in the same category as Bolden, Foster, and Daniels.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered insight after the game that seemed to support the first two points.
“I thought [Lewis] was very competitive, made some plays in the running game and in the passing game,” Belichick said about facing the Jaguars. “Just overall an opportunity for backs to just sharpen up their skills, their run reads, getting tackled, dealing with contact, making those quick decisions with the ball in their hands that you practice in practice, but we all know it’s not quite the same as game situations, especially the tackling and contact part of it. I think it's good for those guys to get used to that, so the first one isn’t in a regular season game and they're not used to it.”
But Belichick is never the type to tip his hand. I think that Lewis should make the team and his ability as a returner should provide added value, but what if the Patriots were showcasing Lewis as possible trade bait? He certainly flashed some of his pre-injury agility during his 24 snaps as his picked up 55 yards on 11 touches.
The Patriots need a pass rusher and many teams could use a talent like Lewis in their backfield. Lewis could be a valuable chip as the Patriots construct their final roster.
What was your reaction when you saw Lewis playing so much in the first preseason game? Were you concerned? Surprised? Or were you expecting him to play a lot? Let us know in the comments.
Were you surprised RB Dion Lewis played so much in the preseason opener against the Jaguars?
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