New England Patriots: 3 interesting position battles on offense

Mac Jones #50 watches teammate Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #50 watches teammate Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
J.J. Taylor #42 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots position battle No. 2: Running backs

New England’s running back room was crowded last season, and it’s somehow managed to become even more crowded after this offseason. They didn’t lose any of their key contributors from last season, and added a couple of impact players along the way.

Among the locks are Damien Harris and James White. Many wondered whether White would have a spot on the roster after being largely phased out of the offense last season, but his involvement with the first team offense last Thursday largely signals he will make the team. Also a likely lock is rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, as New England wouldn’t waste a fourth round pick on a guy they intend to cut.

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That leaves Sony Michel. J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Bolden. Michel is an interesting case, as the former first round pick has struggled to stay healthy, and has been inconsistent when active. However, him and Harris have split reps for most of training camp, so he very well may be a lock to make the roster too.

If that’s the case, it’s probably tough to find room for Taylor and Bolden. New England would try to revert Taylor to the practice squad if he doesn’t make the cut, but he has shown enough potential in his limited action that another team may look to snatch him up. Bolden meanwhile is primarily a special teams contributor, but there may end up not being room for him at the end of the day.

An outside the box possibility is that Michel gets traded before the season opens, therefore clearing the way for a guy like Taylor to just squeeze on the roster. The Pats declined Michel’s fifth-year option, so he will be a free agent after this season, and there’s no sense wasting a roster spot on him is Harris is set to handle most of the carries.

There are many different ways New England could go with the running back room, but that’s what happens when you have this many competent guys at one position. It’s tough to see Michel ending up on the 53 man roster, but the coaches seem intent to create a spot for him for some reason. Regardless, when it’s time to cut the roster down, the running back group will one area to keep an eye on.