As rookies begin their NFL careers, the focus is often on the physical adjustment they need to make. Opponents will be bigger, faster, and stronger than those they faced in college, and with more experience.
However, for Patriots fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson, it’s the mental approach to the game that’s been the biggest change for him so far. Speaking with reporters on Thursday, the 6-foot-0, 250 pound running back said he’s been locked into learning the Patriots’ offensive system.
“You’ve got to stay in that playbook or you’ll get left behind definitely. It’s a lot of information,” Stevenson explained. “For me personally, it’s just routes, pass pick ups, run schemes, who the O-Line is blocking on certain plays, things like that. So I’m not doing nothing but learning, just taking everything in and trying to become a sponge and just soak everything in.”
It’s not just the sheer amount of the information that makes the Patriots’ offense a challenge. Asked what’s surprised him the most about the transiting to the pros, Stevenson replied, “The information being thrown at us is a lot more complicated. You’ve got to put a lot more effort into learning the plays and just learning every scheme and what Josh McDaniels is trying to get done. And he’s a genius. So if you buy into what he’s doing, what he’s teaching us, we should be great.”
Luckily for Stevenson, he’s got quite the veteran running back room to help him learn, with guys like James White, Damien Harris, Sony Michel, and Brandon Bolden. Stevenson says he hopes to learn “a tremendous amount” from that group.
“Not only on the field, but off the field things,” he continued. “How to carry yourself, what to be prepared for on the football field, in the classroom, things like that. Just bettering my game, in every aspect.”
In the past, the Patriots have generally let their rookie running backs ‘redshirt,’ perhaps to give them time to learn the complicated system. If that’s the case, Stevenson will have plenty of time to ‘soak in’ everything he needs to know. At the same time, if he can master it quickly, he’ll have a chance to win the final spot in the Patriots’ running back rotation, left by the departure of Rex Burkhead.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.