By: Steve Balestrieri
The Patriots head into training camp in just a few weeks and there should be plenty of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53 man roster and who is on the bubble.
Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring is a learning exercise and that the competition begins in training camp. While that is true to an extent, with 88 players on board, 35 of these current members of the roster now, at a minimum will be cut.
So we’ll start with the running backs, some members of the national media believe that the Patriots have one of the weaker running back rosters in the league. We tend to disagree with that assessment as Belichick likes a running back by committee, which tends to keep those fantasy numbers down but keeps their legs fresh.
So who’s locked in and who’s on the bubble?
Roster Locks: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden
Belichick wasted no time in bringing back Blount as soon as the Steelers cut him in November after Blount, unhappy with his playing time and walked off the field before a game was complete. Blount was the closest thing the team had to a lead back down the stretch and into the playoffs.
He carried the ball 60 times in the last five games for 281 yards, a 4.68 average and three touchdowns. In the playoffs, Blount carried the ball 47 times for 189 yards, 4.02 average and 3 touchdowns.
He’s big, 6’0, 250 and is very tough to bring down once he gets to the second level. With the new physical, run-oriented guards, Blount must be a happy camper as he’s at his best running inside the tackles. But he’ll miss the opener versus Pittsburgh due to a one-game suspension.
Bolden is another favorite of Belichick and he’s a core special teams player and for that reason, he’s a lock. Well, the fact that he signed a nice extension doesn’t hurt either. He forced a fumble on a kickoff that Kyle Arrington returned for a touchdown against Cincinnati. And he blocked a punt against San Diego giving the Pats the ball in the red zone.
As a running back, Bolden has the size, 5’11, 225 to be a lead back and is good at carrying the ball even in limited opportunities. He’s proven to be a decent pass catcher as well. In 2013, he caught 21 passes out of the backfield for 152 yards. He’s solid as a pass blocker as well. While not a stand-out in any particular area, Bolden does everything well and isn’t going anywhere in 2015.
Only two locks for the roster? Well not quite, they’ll carry more than those two….read on.
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