Don’t overlook New England Patriots own ‘little guy’ Dion Lewis

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Dion Lewis /

With Isaiah Thomas gone to Cleveland (but not forgotten), will another “little guy,” New England Patriots’ running back Dion Lewis, rush into our hearts?

With the focus on newcomers Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, holdovers Lewis and James White are flying under the radar. White’s role, as third down pass catcher out of the backfield, seems secure. But Lewis, a pending free agent, faces stiff competition for snaps. A surprise start in the third preseason game, however, suggests Lewis remains a key cog in the New England Patriots offense.

Little guy, big impact

At 5’8″ and 195lb, Lewis is not built like a traditional, featured running back. Gillislee and Burkhead both seem better suited to run between the tackles. But even with limited touches, Lewis has proven his ability to impact a game.

Last season, upon his return from knee surgery, the Patriots eased Lewis back into the lineup. He logged just a combined 31 touches in his first four games. Against the Denver Broncos on December 18, however, the Patriots took off Lewis’ training wheels. He racked up a team high 18 carries for 95 yards, plus two catches, and New England prevailed 16-3.

Mr. Perfect

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Dion Lewis /

Over his Patriots career, Lewis has played 17 games, including 13 starts. The Pats’ record in those games is a perfect 17-0. Lewis’ contributions in victory included 138 rushes for 596 yards, an impressive 4.32 yards per carry. He’s also an adept pass catcher and can return kicks.

Related Story: New England Patriots 2017 player outlook: Dion Lewis

A Belichick favorite?

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is seldom effusive in praising his own players. Of Lewis’ performance in the first preseason game, Belichick recently said:

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"“Dion’s had a good spring and a good summer, worked very hard in the offseason program, got an opportunity to do some things last night,” Belichick said. “I thought he was very competitive, made some plays in the running game and in the passing game.”"

But going back to 2015, when Lewis first burst on to the scene, Belichick said this:

"“He’s done a good job of learning all the running back stuff, but [also] extended plays, empty plays, things like that where he’s playing out of the backfield. … He’s learned a lot of different spots, a lot of different adjustments – all the different blitz pickups and so forth in the passing game – so he’s picked things up well. He works hard. He’s tough. He’s here every day. Very coachable, just really tries to do what you ask him to do, whatever it is he doesn’t ask any questions, he just works hard to get it right. You love to coach guys like that.”"

We know how much the “Do Your Job” New England Patriots value hard work, on and off the field.

Next: New England Patriots: 5 offensive playmakers to watch in 2017

If he stays healthy, expect Dion Lewis’ hard work to contribute to plenty of wins this season, and maybe beyond.