New England Patriots

  • When it comes to roster construction, the most important thing before all else at the running back position is depth. For the Patriots, their depth in the backfield is being tested coming out of their Week 5 win against the Detroit Lions.

    Rhamondre Stevenson had a career day on Sunday, rushing for 161 yards on 25 carries. After him though, the picture is much gets unclear. Damien Harris left the game early with a hamstring injury, and his status remains unknown. Rookie Pierre Strong is the only other active back on the roster, and has played just three total offense snaps while being inactive twice. On top of that, Bill Belichick told reporters Monday morning that training camp standout Ty Montgomery isn’t expected to return from IR this week – the first week he’s eligible to do so.

    Given all of that, the Patriots may be in a spot where they need to add a back to their active roster. They may have been able to get by giving Stevenson 25 carries this week, but it’s not a sustainable formula. Addressing the position sooner rather than later also gives the team more time to adjust – after all, nobody wants to relive the 2015 Steven Jackson experience, right?

    If the Patriots do look to add a back this week, they’ll have a range of options. Let’s start with those already in the building…

  • J.J. Taylor

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 19: J.J. Taylor #42 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 19: J.J. Taylor #42 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Let’s begin with the players already on the Patriots’ practice squad. They’re the most likely for a couple of reasons. Not only are they the most familiar with what the Patriots are doing offensively, but

    Taylor is the most likely option from the group , given both his NFL and team experience. Since joining the Patriots as a UDFA out of Arizona in 2020, he’s appeared in 11 games carrying the ball 42 times for 147 yards. After rushing for 56 yards on 14 carries in the preseason, he was waived and brought back on the practice squad.

    If he’s elevated or added to the active roster, Taylor’s shifty running style would be a good compliment to the physical ball carrying of Stevenson and Harris. He also has experience contributing in the kicking game.

  • Kevin Harris

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 26: Running back Kevin Harris #36 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 26: Running back Kevin Harris #36 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    A sixth-round pick this past spring, Harris was the Patriots’ leading rusher in the preseason with 80 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also had three catches for 13 yards. However, he struggled at times with ball security which probably led to him ending up on the practice squad.

    Harris is a relatively experienced player for a rookie. He was a featured back in college at South Carolina, where he led the SEC with 1,138 rushing yards in 2020. Like the backs currently on the Patriots’ active roster, he’s a bruising runner. If the team feels he’s improved his ability to hold onto the football, he could get a look in the coming weeks.


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  • Lynn Bowden

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Lynn Bowden Jr. #3 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – AUGUST 27: Lynn Bowden Jr. #3 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    Bowden is a bit of a slash player, but we’ll include him here. He was recruited to Kentucky as a quarterback, but switched to playing receiver as a freshman. He was All-SEC at the position, but later ended up playing quarterback when the team was hit by injuries at the position. Drafted in the third round in 2020, he’s played both running back and wide receiver in the NFL.

    The Patriots signed Bowden to their practice squad shortly after roster cuts. He’s now been the building for over a month, and should have a good grasp of the offense. If the Patriots want a more receiving/third down-focused back to allow Stevenson to focus on the more traditional running game, it would make sense to elevate Bowden.

  • Devine Ozigbo

    DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 27:  Running back Devine Ozigbo #36 of the Denver Broncos catches a pass from quarterback Josh Johnson #11 in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High on August 27, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

    DENVER, COLORADO – AUGUST 27: Running back Devine Ozigbo #36 of the Denver Broncos catches a pass from quarterback Josh Johnson #11 in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High on August 27, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

    Time to move on to backs on other teams’ practice squads. Remember, the Patriots would need to sign these players to their active 53-man roster in order to get them on the team.

    We’ll begin with a player who has already spent time in New England in Ozigbo. The Patriots signed him to the practice squad late last season, and then a futures deal in January. However, he was let go before spring practices. After a stint with the Saints to start the summer he ended up in Denver, and is currently on the Broncos’ practice squad. They’ve elevated him once this year, and he ran the ball one time for two yards.

  • Tyler Badie

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 21: Running back Tyler Badie #30 of the Baltimore Ravens scores on a 3-yard touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of the NFL preseason game at State Farm Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ravens defeated the Cardinals 24-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – AUGUST 21: Running back Tyler Badie #30 of the Baltimore Ravens scores on a 3-yard touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of the NFL preseason game at State Farm Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ravens defeated the Cardinals 24-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Badie is a rookie that is currently on the Ravens practice squad after Baltimore took him in the sixth round in this past NFL Draft. He seemed like a logical fit for the Patriots in the pre-draft process, so why not put him back on the radar now?

    In his senior year at Missouri Badie had a lot put on his plate. He carried the ball 268 times for 1,604 yards and recorded 54 catches for 330 yards. Even with all those touches, the 5-foot-8, 197 pound back never fumbled. That versatility and ball security are key traits the Patriots generally look for. Like Bowden, he could feature more on third downs and allow Stevenson to be more of an early-down playmaker.

  • Jaret Patterson

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - AUGUST 27: Running Back Jaret Patterson #32 of the Washington Commanders carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 27: Running Back Jaret Patterson #32 of the Washington Commanders carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    There were some rumblings about the Patriots being interested in Patterson leading into the 2021 NFL Draft. He was a highly productive player in college, rushing for over 1,000 yards in all three seasons at Buffalo.

    Patterson ended up going undrafted, and signed with Washington. He appeared in all 17 games for them last year with one start, carrying the ball 68 times for 266 yards and catching another 10 passes for 73 yards. This year he failed to make the initial roster and ended up on the practice squad.

  • Duke Johnson

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Duke Johnson #28 of the Miami Dolphins rushes for a touchdown over Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots in the third quarter of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Duke Johnson #28 of the Miami Dolphins rushes for a touchdown over Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots in the third quarter of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Maybe the Patriots want a more experienced back in the mix? Johnson was a star receiving back for the Browns in the mid-2010s, but has struggled to find similar success bouncing around with multiple teams since, and is currently on the Bills’ practice squad. He spent last year in Miami where he played mainly a reserve role. However, he showed up big against the Patriots in the regular season finale, carrying the ball 25 times for 117 yards. Bill Belichick has a history of players who succeed against him, so it’s worth keeping that game in mind.

  • Godwin Igwebuike

    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 14: Godwin Igwebuike #35 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Heinz Field on November 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 14: Godwin Igwebuike #35 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Heinz Field on November 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    Igwebuike is one of two running backs the Patriots have hosted for a free agent meeting/workout this season. He was in Foxboro three weeks ago, but left without a contract. Since then, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks practice squad.

    Since entering the league as a UDFA out of Northwestern in 2018, Igwebuike has played for seven teams in five years, including a stint in the XFL. In that time he’s played in 23 games, including appearing in all 17 games last season with the Detroit Lions. He carried the ball 18 times for 118 yards and caught seven passes for 60 yards, while also playing a significant special teams role.

  • Marlon Mack

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 11: Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes during the second quarter in a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – OCTOBER 11: Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes during the second quarter in a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    There’s no definitive connection between Mack and the Patriots, but he’s always seemed like a logical fit for New England since he reportedly demanded a trade from the Colts in 2021. Mack is a well-rounded back that had a breakout season in 2019, but has failed to duplicate the success due to injuries.

    Mack is currently on the 49ers practice squad. He’s already been elevated twice this season, but has played just five total snaps, all on special teams.

  • Qadree Ollison

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 12:  Qadree Ollison #30 of the Atlanta Falcons tries to outrun AJ Parker #41 of the Detroit Lions in the first quarter during a NFL preseason game at Ford Field on August 12, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 12: Qadree Ollison #30 of the Atlanta Falcons tries to outrun AJ Parker #41 of the Detroit Lions in the first quarter during a NFL preseason game at Ford Field on August 12, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    So far, we’ve been assuming the Patriots want a back who can contribute in the passing game. But what if the opposite is true? What about adding a big bruising back to make Stevenson’s and Harris’ roles more third-down focused?

    In that case, they could look to Ollison, who is currently on the Cowboys’ practice squad. Ollison is a punishing runner at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds. A fifth-round pick out of Pitt in 2019, he’s carried the ball 44 times for 158 yards in 19 NFL games. He also has significant special teams experience, which would make him a more attractive option for the Patriots.

  • Nate McCrary

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - AUGUST 27: Running back Nate McCrary #47 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to the preseason game against the Washington Commanders at M&T Bank Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 27: Running back Nate McCrary #47 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to the preseason game against the Washington Commanders at M&T Bank Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    Moving on from practice squad players to outright free agents. The Patriots could sign any of these players to either their practice squad or active roster.

    McCrary is the other back the Patriots hosted for a workout earlier this year, on the same day as Igwebuike. He’s remained unsigned since. McCrary spent the offseason with the Baltimore Ravens, after appearing in one game for them last year. This is is second NFL season, he entered the league as a UDFA out of Division-II Saginaw State last year.

  • Lamar Miller

    HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 02:  Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans rushes the ball defended by Emmanuel Ogbah #90 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 02: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans rushes the ball defended by Emmanuel Ogbah #90 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    Miller was one of the more dynamic backs in the league at one point, but has never bounced back from a torn ACL in the 2019 preseason. He spent part of training camp in 2020 with the Patriots, but failed to make the team. That season, he ended up appearing in just one game for the Chicago Bears. That’s his most recent NFL action – he spent a month on the Saints’ practice squad last year without being elevated.

    Now 31, Miller hasn’t officially retired. Could his NFL experience and the fact he’s been with the team before lead to the Patriots giving him a call?

  • Devontae Booker

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 28: Devontae Booker #28 of the New York Giants runs with the ball past Derek Barnett #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 28, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 28: Devontae Booker #28 of the New York Giants runs with the ball past Derek Barnett #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 28, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    Last season, Booker was the starting running back for the Giants in Joe Judge’s final season as the head coach in New York. He put up 861 yards from scrimmage is what was a fledgling offense. Booker has been unsigned since the spring, but with Judge’s new team potentially needing depth in the backfield could he reconnect with his old coach?

  • Bo Scarbrough

    DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Bo Scarbrough #43 of the Detroit Lions runs for a first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago defeated Detroit 24-20. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

    DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 28: Bo Scarbrough #43 of the Detroit Lions runs for a first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago defeated Detroit 24-20. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

    From one of Joe Judge’s former players, to one of Matt Patricia’s. Scarbrough was a standout at Alabama during two National Championship seasons, and joined the Lions in 2019. In Detroit, he appeared in six games carrying the ball 89 times for 377 yards.

    Scarbrough played a limited role with the Seahawks in 2020, then last season showed up in the USFL where he ran for 353 yards on 84 carries. A big bruising back at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds with an Alabama background, he’d fit right in in New England if the team believes he’s up for another NFL shot.

  • Devonta Freeman

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Devonta Freeman #33 of the Baltimore Ravens runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – NOVEMBER 07: Devonta Freeman #33 of the Baltimore Ravens runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

    Freeman isn’t the player he was in Atlanta, but he did manage 766 all-purpose yards in 16 games for the Ravens last year. The 30-year-old wasn’t with a team this summer, but isn’t officially retired either.

  • 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.