Rhamondre Stevenson couldn’t have started his Patriots preseason career much better than he did.
The rookie running back scored the team’s first touchdown of 2021 on a powerful goal-line run. He added a 91-yard TD scamper in the game’s waning minutes.
Not bad for a guy who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds.
Stevenson finished the game with 127 yards and the two touchdowns on 10 carries. While it’s true that his production largely came in the second half against backup-caliber players, he gave Patriots fans reason for excitement. But it may be difficult for him to continue the positive momentum into the regular season.
Why Rhamondre Stevenson may have trouble earning touches
Over the last decade, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have tended not to involve rookie running backs heavily in their offense. Instead, the team has given many of its young backs a de facto redshirt year.
Since 2011, the Patriots have drafted five running backs aside from Stevenson. Of those five, only one had more than 90 touches as a rookie: 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel.
Ridley, Vereen, White and Harris were drafted in Rounds 2-4 and saw minimal action as rookies. Stevenson was a fourth-round pick, so he may be the next running back to spend time on the inactives list while learning more about the Patriots’ system.
It’s also noteworthy that Stevenson’s position coach, Ivan Fears, isn’t sold on him yet. Fears was recently asked about what Stevenson needed to improve upon, and he bluntly answered, “Everything.”
“What do I like about him? He’s here. I like that he’s here,” Fears said, per NESN’s Zack Cox. “Other than that, everything’s got to improve. That’s what we have to get done. He’s got a lot to learn, he’s talented, we’ll see what he can do in the games, but right now, he’s got a lot to learn . . . a lot to learn.”
That’s not exactly a glowing review. Perhaps Fears will feel a bit better about Stevenson after his performance Thursday against Washington, but for now, it still seems as if he’s fighting an uphill battle to earn touches.