Patriots gridiron news: Mike Gillislee designated as short yardage pounder

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 24: Mike Gillislee
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 24: Mike Gillislee /

New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee hasn’t had an explosive impact yet, but has demonstrated success in short yardage situations. 

Entering the midway point of the 2017 NFL season, the New England Patriots have depended more on their versatile group of running backs than expected. While Dion Lewis has been the surprise performer during the first half of the season, newcomer Mike Gillislee is still finding his niche in the offense.

That role may turn out to be his short-yardage running.  While the Patriots signed Gillislee away from the Buffalo Bills as more of an all-around lead back, his downhill running is proving to be more of a value.

Sure, there was a couple of times he was stuffed during times the team needed one yard to advance the chains, but overall, his physical style has been the most capable of grounding out those yards.

Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears pointed out that those situations take a total team effort.  Particularly, those depended upon to open up the necessary running lanes and create a push against defensive lines.  With that, he mentioned Mike Gillislee as the first running back the team will continue to turn to with short yardage is needed.

"“Mike’s my biggest back.  He’s my strongest runner.  I’m going to give him a shot at it first,” Fears said, via ESPN.  “If somebody has a chance to run through and make a play, he has a chance to do it as far as if he has to physically run through a guy.”"

With both Lewis and a healthy Rex Burkhead breathing down his neck for those snaps, Gillislee really needs to prove his worth in the running game during the second half of the season.  He will certainly get his chances. But, with this team, those chances can decline quickly if someone else can do the job better.

Buffalo Bills blocking Anquan Boldin from joining Patriots

The Buffalo Bills have been the New England Patriots minor leagues system the last few years.  With players like Chris Hogan, Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee making the journey from the Bills to the Patriots, the AFC East rivals do not want to help out the defending Super Bowl champions any further.

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Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday, Bills general manager Brandon Beane explains why the team won’t release the currently retired Anquan Boldin and allow him to sign with the Patriots or any other AFC East competition.

"“We made a commitment to Anquan, and he made a commitment to us back in [training] camp,” Beane explained, via ESPN.  “He left for the reasons he mentioned back in August.  We invested in him – invested time and committed to him – and we wouldn’t want to just put him out on the market to see him go sign with the Patriots or the Dolphins or anybody that can get in our way or work against us.”"

Boldin has expressed interest in coming out of retirement to join the Patriots.  But, with the Bills having a successful season, perhaps he’ll have renewed interest in playing for them.  He did sign a one-year deal prior to the season.  Ironically, his decision to retire came as the team appeared to be in rebuild mode.

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

Buffalo is currently a game behind the Patriots in the AFC East following a Thursday night loss to the New York Jets.