New England Patriots’ training camp is just around the corner, though the incoming rookie class has already reported to Foxborough for the preseason tune-up.
When it comes to the players fans are most excited to watch, it goes without saying first-round selection Mac Jones tops the list.
Not only has he been raved about throughout the offseason, but he’ll reportedly battle Cam Newton for the starting job.
It’s likely Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins, the Patriots’ second- and third-round selections, come in right behind Jones. While rookie defensive linemen don’t always play huge roles for Bill Belichick, Barmore and Perkins are in a good position to break that trend given their talent.
Then, of course, you get to fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson, who’s been drawing comparisons to Patriots playoff hero LeGarrette Blount since the draft.
It’s intriguing to think what Stevenson can bring to the Patriots’ backfield. However, fans might have to wait a little longer to see him debut at camp.
On Wednesday, the Pats placed Stevenson, along with fellow rookies Cameron McGrone and Joshua Bledsoe, on the active/non-football injury list.
What should Patriots fans make of Rhamondre Stevenson’s delayed start?
This news came as a surprise, as Stevenson participated in spring practices. However, running backs coach Ivan Fears told reporters back in May that the Oklahoma product was “fighting through a couple nagging things.” It’s unclear what Stevenson is dealing with, but whatever it is, it’s clearly bothering him enough to keep him sidelined.
So, what does Stevenson’s delayed start mean for his chances of carving out a role in the Pats’ crowded backfield as a rookie? It honestly depends how long he’s out, and it bodes well for the former Sooner that players can be activated off the active/NFI list at any time.
However, as we’ve seen through the years, rookies often struggle to make impacts on Patriots teams that have playoff aspirations. On top of that, Stevenson already has Damien Harris and Sony Michel ahead of him in the pecking order for touches.
Not to mention, James White is is always a candidate to vulture a couple carries per game. We know the Patriots like to share the wealth in their backfield, but offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be hard-pressed to keep four RBs happy.
We like to think Stevenson’s talent will ultimately shine through, but if he’s sidelined for the duration of camp, fans might have to accept that the 6-foot, 227-pound bruiser could struggle to find a role for himself in Year 1. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.