Patriots: Danny Amendola Should Help Replace Dion Lewis


Despite a relatively easy 27-10 victory over the Washington Redskins, the New England Patriots suffered a tough blow on Sunday. According to the Boston Globe, running back Dion Lewis will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

With incredible quickness and nearly unrivaled elusiveness, Lewis had carved out a significant role in the Patriots’ offense this season. He rushed for 234 yards on 49 carries through his shortened year, and also added 36 receptions for 388 yards. Lewis reached the end zone four times, twice as a runner and twice as a receiver.

Lewis had become the Patriots’ primary receiving back, which allowed him to be on the field more, and be more involved in the offense than any other running back on the roster. This is a significant loss for the Patriots, who leaned on Lewis to make plays in the first half of the season.

LeGarrette Blount is likely to see increased snaps at the running back position with Lewis out, while James White is the favorite to become the primary receiving back. Brandon Bolden may get a few more snaps as well, but I think we all know how limited he is offensively at this point.

The Patriots may also look to the waiver wire to help replace Lewis. There are a handful of interesting free agent backs on the market who could help them through this tough timeTravaris Cadet stands out as a prime option to bring in from the outside, as he has a similar skill-set to Lewis and was with the team in training camp.

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It will be interesting to see how the Patriots replace Lewis at the running back position, but even more importantly is how they will replace his production. While Lewis lined-up in the backfield, he did a lot of different things for this offense. His primary contribution was in the passing game, so it does not necessarily have to be a running back who comes in and takes a majority of balls that would have otherwise gone to Lewis.

In fact, wide receiver Danny Amendola appears to be the most natural fit to expand his role in the offense in Lewis’ absence.

Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are the primary receiving options in the Patriots’ offense. Lewis had carved out enough of a role where he basically became Tom Brady‘s third option in the passing game. With similar speed, quickness and elusive ability, Amendola is the most logical player to fill in as that third option.

Fellow receiver Brandon LaFell will likely see an expanded role as well, but Amendola can bring a lot of the same skills as Lewis, which is obviously something that make the offense work well.

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Edelman is arguably the best receiver in the NFL in the short passing game. His ability to get open underneath both on the outside and in the slot is unrivaled throughout the league. Amendola brings a similar skill-set to the fold as Edelman, and when given the opportunity to make plays, Amendola typically shines.

With Edelman and Lewis, Brady had two great options in the short passing game. With Edelman being lined-up in many places and Lewis primarily being in the backfield. The Patriots’ offense is based on an elite short passing attack, and without Lewis making plays out of the backfield, someone is going to have to step up.

Amendola is the only other player on the roster who the Patriots can use in similar situations. Sure, it will not be from the backfield, but I have confidence that Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Brady will figure something out.

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Using Amendola as a receiver as opposed to Lewis out of the backfield will certainly give the Patriots’ offense a different look. That being said, the combination of Amendola and Edelman in the short passing game has a chance to be just a lethal. Using similar principles, Amendola should now get a consistent opportunity to shine.