As training camp opens up, there are numerous storylines getting a lot of buzz surrounding the New England Patriots.
All of them are newsworthy – the addition of Brandin Cooks, the possibility of a 16-0 season, the backup QB remains on the roster (for now) as the backup (for now). These are not the headlines that have my interest though. I’m watching two position groupings that are key for the season – the running backs and linebackers.
First up is the battle at running back. Who will emerge as the starter and how many of these guys are going to make the roster? The Patriots have a very deep and stable backfield with James White, Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, DJ Foster, and LeShun Daniels Jr. That’s not to mention fullbacks James Develin and Glenn Gronkowski.
The “locks” for the roster:
James White – besides filling in admirably for the injured Dion Lewis, I don’t think I need to remind Patriot fans about his performance in the Super Bowl. He’s progressed nicely in the system the past four years and really thought he was going to be the starter this year, meaning the workhorse, every down back. I think he can still fill that roll, but the other “locks” will prevent that type of role from existing in this offense.
Mike Gillislee – the LeGarrette Blount replacement who joins the team as a restricted free agent acquisition from Buffalo. The team invested too much to acquire Gillislee and he does very easily project as the teams “big” back. Based on his superb yards per attempt (5.7 last season…granted, only with 101 attempts), he could very well be the starter. He…
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