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Patriots’ rushing leaders over last five preseasons

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Revisiting the ground leaders from New England’s recent preseason memory.

New England Patriots v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Who’s led the New England Patriots’ rushing attack over the last five preseasons?

A motley crew that doesn’t include the likes of Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars or Tommy Lee.

But here’s a glance back on the running backs – and quarterback – who’ve topped New England’s charts before the 2019 exhibition schedule hits the road against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Aug. 8.

Meetings with the Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants will follow.

And so will another summer’s worth of carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns for the archives.

CARRIES

  • 2014: Jonas Gray – 37
  • 2015: LeGarrette Blount – 31
  • 2016: Tyler Gaffney – 35
  • 2017: Dion Lewis – 18
  • 2018: Ralph Webb – 31

Gray finished the 2014 preseason with as many carries as he’d soon amass during his 201-yard, four-touchdown showing versus the Indianapolis Colts that sent him onto the cover of Sports Illustrated. As for Gaffney, the dual-drafted Stanford Cardinal once claimed off waivers, his 35 carries in the summer of 2016 rank second in recent Patriots memory. Gaffney had a subsequent stop in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former MLB 24th-rounder returned to baseball last year as an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A-Advanced Bradenton Marauders, and later the Double-A Altoona Curve, before announcing his retirement this February.

RUSHING YARDS

  • 2014: Jonas Gray – 142
  • 2015: James White – 71
  • 2016: Tyler Gaffney – 152
  • 2017: Dion Lewis – 77
  • 2018: Danny Etling – 120

With the help of his 86-yard naked bootleg in the 2018 preseason finale at MetLife Stadium, Etling surpassed veteran Jeremy Hill for New England’s lead in rushing yards. “One of the most exciting plays I’ve seen in preseason, I’ll say,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered postgame. “Danny’s a little faster than maybe we thought he was.” Etling, taken in the seventh round via Purdue and LSU last spring, spent the duration of his rookie season on the New England practice squad before signing a futures contract. He’s now one of four quarterbacks in the fold for training camp after the war room selected Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham at No. 133 overall in April.

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

  • 2014: Roy Finch – 1
  • 2015: James White, Dion Lewis – 1
  • 2016: LeGarrette Blount – 2
  • 2017: Mike Gillislee – 1
  • 2018: Ralph Webb – 2

Only Blount and Webb have walked away with a pair of ground touchdowns over the last half-decade of Patriots preseason football. Blount proceeded to set a single-season franchise record with 18 rushing scores in 2016 before moving on to the Philadelphia Eagles and Lions. Webb, meanwhile, began his rookie year on New England’s practice squad before latching on with the practice squads of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers. An undrafted rookie out of Vanderbilt who’d also posted a receiving TD and a pair of two-point conversions during his stay with the Patriots, Webb agreed to a futures deal with Pittsburgh in January.