Rhamondre Stevenson has had a mostly encouraging rookie season. Joining the New England Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick, he showed considerable promise over the summer and was able eventually to emerge as the No. 2 early-down option alongside Damien Harris.
While he did have some growing pains — he lost a fumble in Week 1 against Miami, for example, and was benched for the next three games — the arrow was pointing in the right direction throughout 2021. Stevenson eventually appeared in 13 games, while gaining 789 yards from scrimmage as a runner and receiver.
Heading into his sophomore campaign, his goal is to become an even bigger piece of the puzzle.
“It’s a process; it’s still early. I’m trying ‘the more you can do, the better.’ I’m just trying to sharpen up all my skills,” the Oklahoma product told reporters during last week’s mandatory minicamp.
Anything specific he is focusing on, though?
“Not to be cliché, but: everything,” Stevenson said. “But some focuses I had were route running, being a third-down back, and just how to help my team even more than I did last year.”
The 24-year-old diversifying his skillset would be good news for the Patriots. While they did invest in fellow running backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris in the draft, Stevenson projects to play a prominent role for the unit in 2022 and beyond.
While Harris still projects as RB1 entering the final year of his contract, Stevenson has some potential to serve as a dual-threat of sorts alongside him. Last season, he ran the ball 141 times for 633 yards and five touchdowns while also catching 18 passes for an additional 156 yards.
Stevenson is not just focused on becoming a more well-rounded member of the New England backfield, though.
“Personally, it’s vision for me,” he said when talking about his personal priorities. “Just making the right cuts. Just knowing where the blocks are going to happen. Just making the right cut — reads, run reads, pass reads, things like that.”
Together with other players such as quarterback Mac Jones and defensive lineman Christian Barmore, Stevenson is a realistic candidate to make the famous second-year leap. He is not leaving things to chance either: Stevenson was an active participant throughout the Patriots’ offseason program, participating in both voluntary and mandatory workouts.
For him, it’s just part of the sophomore experience.
“We’re all in Year 2,” he said. “We’re all maturing and getting used to the NFL lifestyle.”