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Ivan Fears offers progress report on Patriots rookie Rhamondre Stevenson after back-to-back scratches

The Patriots turned to Oklahoma product Rhamondre Stevenson at No. 120 overall.

Miami Dolphins Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The season opener marked the last time Rhamondre Stevenson was active for the New England Patriots.

His rookie debut brought one carry for two yards, one catch for nine yards and a fumble versus the Miami Dolphins. It brought five offensive snaps.

But running backs coach Ivan Fears sees progression behind the scenes after consecutive healthy scratches against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints.

“Most definitely,” Fears told reporters of the 23-year-old Stevenson during his video conference on Tuesday. “Most definitely. You know, you only can carry so many guys to the game and he has made big improvements on the stuff that we asked him to make improvements on and we’re happy with him. So, we’re kind of excited to see if he can pick up a new role here.”

James White’s reported hip subluxation could open that window for Stevenson behind Patriots starter Damien Harris. White, a four-time team captain, was carted off in the second quarter last Sunday at Gillette Stadium. His absence in blitz pickup and in the passing game saw veteran Brandon Bolden and second-year pro J.J. Taylor account for a combined 43 offensive snaps.

“Maybe he can pick up some of the stuff that James was doing,” added Fears. “We’ll throw it at him this week and see what sticks in practice, see what he can handle.”

Stevenson landed in the fourth round at pick No. 120 overall as the calendar turned to May. The transfer from Cerritos College to the University of Oklahoma went on to rush for an NFL-high five touchdowns in the preseason while finishing as the August leader with 217 yards on the ground.

A 91-yarder would be among them as Stevenson, listed at 6-foot, 246 pounds, ranked top the league in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected through 30 carries.

“As I look at him, he’s got the skill. He’s going to be a hell of a player in this league,” Fears said. “We had to get him right. We had to get him to understand the entire game and everything that goes with it. He’s made great strides in that area. He really has. I’m kind of happy with the kid. I really am. This is not an easy thing. A lot of rookies struggle with the adjustment from college to pros. It’s a whole different atmosphere for him. This kid, he’s doing the things that we ask him to do and I appreciate that from him.”

The next turn for Stevenson could arrive Sunday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit Foxborough.

“I think he’s going to be great in his next — what do you want to call it — appearance,” said Fears. “I think the kid is going to be really good. I really do. I think he’s taken to heart everything everybody’s told him. I’m talking about his teammates, the other backs, coaches — he’s taken it to heart and we kind of like it. I really like it. So, I think the kid’s going to come out and do well when he gets his next shot.”