If healthy, there is no reason to believe Harris won’t at least duplicate his production in 2021. The excitement, however, comes in the package of toughness, power, and versatility of Stevenson. Coming off a rookie season in which he rushed for 606 yards and 5 touchdowns, former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson sees a breakout season ahead for the Oklahoma product.
In his NFL.com article highlighting running backs poised to make Year 2 leaps, Tomlinson sees Stevenson bypassing Harris as the featured back.
“New England’s Damien Harris racked up 929 rush yards and 15 rush touchdowns last season, so he’ll likely be the RB1 to open the season. But Stevenson is a big play waiting to happen. Harris has a history of injuries, missing eight games over the last two seasons. If given the opportunity, Stevenson (6-foot, 230 pounds) has the ability to overtake the fourth-year back and keep the job. Stevenson is a tough, powerful runner with great vision and he’s exactly what the Patriots’ offense needs as the team continues to develop quarterback Mac Jones.”
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson has the ability to do it all
Stevenson showed glimpses of that big play ability in 2021 and there is no reason he won’t get even more of an opportunity in 2022. Let’s not forget, Stevenson did land in Bill Belichick’s doghouse earlier in the season due to ball security issues, but when given the opportunity to redeem himself, the rookie produced.
With 4.6 yards per carry, that toughness and strength Tomlinson praises was on full display as the Patriots running back seemed to always find extra yards after contact. So, while Harris should also get even better in 2022, Stevenson is the explosive type of back that can do it all. By all, I mean he can catch the ball out of the backfield and make things happen.
That play alone just shows the burst of Stevenson once he gets the ball in the open field. Mac Jones and the Patriots offense should take more advantage of that versatility in 2022. With 14 catches for 123 yards in his rookie season, Stevenson could also bypass James White as the team’s third-down back.
“I feel a lot more confident and comfortable running routes,” Stevenson said late last week, via NBC Sports Boston. “Understanding the third-down concepts, blitz-pickup, I would say. Just the overall thing (feels better). Running routes, catching the ball, pass-protection, just learning the overall third-down system.”
Improving on that aspect of his game will make Rhamondre Stevenson the type of all-around running back they haven’t had in quite a while. Think a combination of Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk packaged in a 225-pound frame. Yes, it should be that kind of season for Stevenson and this New England Patriots fan is all for it.