Patriots gridiron news: Dion Lewis ‘embracing’ role as featured back

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Dion Lewis /

Running back Dion Lewis has elevated his game in a major way and is now a big part of the New England Patriots offense heading into the playoffs.

He was fourth on the depth chart and was in the middle of trade rumors to begin the season.  Fast forward to the end of the 2017 season and New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis has excelled to one of the most important weapons in the team’s offense.

Hard work, patience, health and opportunity sums up the regular season of the 5-foot-8, 195-pound running back.  With injuries to Rex Burkhead and inconsistent play from Mike Gillislee, Lewis took an opportunity to shine and is not one of the bright spots heading into the 2017 NFL playoffs.

Following a week in which he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his stellar performance against the Buffalo Bills, Dion Lewis followed up with a career-high 26 carries against the New York Jets in the team’s 26-6 victory in the regular-season finale.  He rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown and caught the ball six times for 40 yards and another touchdown.

On an ice-cold day in Foxboro, Lewis carried the team and proved he is not just one of the options in the backfield, he is the option.

"“I’m embracing this.  I like getting the ball and helping my team win,” Lewis said, via the Boston Herald.  “I just want to make playful for the team and have fun out there.  I had a lot of fun out there.”"

In all, Dion Lewis is producing with a combination of the quickness, power and elusiveness he was known for before going down with a season-ending torn ACL in 2015.  He has also added a Le’Veon Bell type patience that has made him even more hard to take down on first contact.

FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 31: Dion Lewis /

While the expectations weren’t set high for Lewis entering the season, he knew if given the opportunity, he could do exactly what he has done as the season waned for the New England Patriots.

"“I know what I am capable of doing – nothing surprises me,” Lewis said. “It might surprise you guys, but I’ve been doing this since I was six.  Running the same way, playing the same style my whole life.  This is just who I am.”"

Related Story: Dion Lewis continues to play big

Belichick praises the resilience of Dion Lewis

 Another person not surprised about the success of Dion Lewis is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.  Speaking to the media following Sunday’s game, Belichick complimented Lewis on his hard work and dedication to the team even when his role was reduced.

"“Dion works really hard, he always has,” Belichick said, via  “He’s earned everything he’s gotten, like everybody had, but he’s earned it.  He’s faced some setbacks along the way, but he’s always been pretty resilient.”More from Chowder and Champions3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster DeadlineMLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 SeasonRed Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win"

That resilience may earn Lewis a big contract following the season.  The University of Pittsburgh alum is on the final year of a two-year contract extension he signed with the team back in 2015.

Patriots’ opponents set for the 2018 season

After finishing up the regular season at 13-3, the New England Patriots will have some intriguing matchups in 2018.  While dates and times will not be set until the summer, the current defending Super Bowl champions will face the following opponents according to ESPN.

Home: Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins.

Away:  Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins.

Along with a matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, some notable games include a number of possible rematches based on how this year’s playoffs play out.  The Patriots could possibly face the Chiefs, Steelers, Jaguars, Titans, Bills and possible the Vikings in Super Bowl LII.

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Another intriguing matchup could be the Lions with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia a leading candidate for the head coaching job.