New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) is helped off the field as they take on the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Rhamondre Stevenson’s hot start to Sunday’s New England Patriots game against the Los Angeles Chargers was cut short early. After rushing for 40 yards on eight carries in the first 10 minutes of the game, Stevenson had to be helped off the field after being tackled by Chargers rookie defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu. He was later ruled out with an ankle injury.

Following the game, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that Stevenson’s initial X-rays were negative, and that “the belief is the MRI [Stevenson will undergo on Monday] will show a sprain.” He added that “the initial belief is Stevenson will miss time, possibly multiple games.”


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Stevenson got hurt on a play featuring a ‘hip-drop tackle,’ a move that has seen increased attention across the NFL this year because of the number of injuries that have resulted from it. On a hip-drop tackle, the tackler wraps up the ball-carrier around the waist and then basically drops his own weight, pulling the tackler to the ground. This often results in ball-carriers legs’ getting twisted on the way down, and/or getting directly rolled up on by the tackler.

Rich Ohrnberger on Twitter: "Hip Drop tackle has to go.Rhamondre Stevenson injures his ankle here. Couldn't finish the game. pic.twitter.com/B0AUUBBnfR / Twitter"

Hip Drop tackle has to go.Rhamondre Stevenson injures his ankle here. Couldn't finish the game. pic.twitter.com/B0AUUBBnfR

According to The Athletic, the NFL “is gathering information on ‘hip-drop’ tackles to decide if they should join the list of banned actions,” which is something many have called for. Initial data has shown hip-drop tackles “have 25 times more likelihood of injury a player as other tackles.”

As part of that process, the league is working to strictly define the act, and has focused on three concepts – “the tackler unweighing his legs or dropping his weight,” “a pivot or swivel by the tackler, which they believe to be a second act by the tackler,” and “landing on the ball carrier’s legs.”

  • Should the play be banned?

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) is helped by the athletic staff after an injury on a play against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) is helped by the athletic staff after an injury on a play against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite the controversy around the play, and despite Stevenson’s injury, Patriots players from both sides of the ball said after Sunday’s game they don’t think the play should be removed from the game.

    “It’s the defense’s job to tackle guys, and I don’t think people are doing that with malicious intent,” center and captain David Andrews said when asked about the play. “Eventually, you keep taking away certain plays, taking away certain plays, taking away this, taking away that, what’s going to be left of the game? Look, it’s an unfortunate reality of this game, and no one wants to see that. Guys on other teams don’t want to see guys get hurt. We don’t want to see guys get hurt. But it’s an unfortunate reality of playing in the NFL.”

    “People try to soften the game up. It’s football. Injuries are going to occur. Every team has them. Every team deals with them. There’s but so many ways you can tackle these guys already. Now they’re trying to take [more] away,” said Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers. “However you’ve got to get a guy on the ground that’s legal, you do it.”

  • Who is next up at running back?

    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)

    With Stevenson expected to miss time, Ezekiel Elliott will likely see the bulk of the workload at running back. However he’s dealing with an injury of his own, and was questionable for Sunday’s game with a thigh issue. Despite that, he ran for 52 yards on 17 carries, and had another four catches for 40 yards.

    The Patriots will need to add running back depth beyond Elliott as long as Stevenson misses time. Hybrid running back/wide receiver Ty Montgomery seeing some snaps in the backfield on Sunday to spell Elliott, and special teamer JaMycal Hasty has yet to appear in a game for the Patriots after signing a few weeks ago off waivers.

    It would make sense for the Patriots to turn to 2022 sixth-round pick Kevin Harris, who has spent the entire year on their practice squad. Bouncing back and forth between the Patriots’ active roster and practice squad last year as a rookie, Harris appeared in five games. He carried the ball 18 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Harris’ familiarity with the Patriots’ offense would be helpful, as the team prepares to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on a short week this Thursday.

    Long-term, the Patriots may look to make an external addition at running back. One player to watch could be J.J. Taylor, who was with the Patriots from the start of the 2020 season through training camp this year, and was released as part of final roster cuts. He is currently on the Houston Texans’ practice squad.

  • 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.

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