FOXBORO, MA — Patriots quarterback Mac Jones wasn’t the only rookie from the 2021 draft class who had an impressive preseason debut in Thursday night’s win over Washington.
Fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson capped off the victory for the Pats with a 91-yard touchdown run, finishing the night with ten carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Speaking after Thursday night’s game, Patriots offensive captain and fellow running back James White joked that he didn’t know the Pats’ rookie had those kinds of wheels until the 91-yard run.
“Today, I learned he’s pretty fast,” White said about Stevenson. “He’s a young guy coming in ready to work. Competing. He’s got a lot of talent, obviously, as you guys can see. I said each week we all just want to continue to progress and get better and learn.
On Stevenson’s 91-yard run, the Patriots ran a crack toss scheme where tight ends Troy Fumagili and David Wells blocked down to help Stevenson get the edge. Backup right tackle R.J. Prince then pulled out in front of the Pats’ running back to kick out the play-side corner. With the right side of the formation executing their blocks, Stevenson was off to the races.
The Pats dialed up a draw play where Stevenson broke several tackles on an impressive run earlier in the game as well, bouncing off Washington defenders to pick up nine yards.
The Pats’ rookie saw most of his carries late when all Washington’s regular contributors on defense were already out of the game.
Plus, running backs coach Ivan Fears was very candid about Stevenson’s progress in an interview earlier this month when he said, “What do I like about him? He’s here. I like that he’s here. Other than that, everything’s gotta improve.”
The Patriots have a deep backfield with top early-down backs Damien Harris and Sony Michel slated to carry the load, while White will be the primary third-down back this season.
Adding veteran special teamer Brandon Bolden and the shifty J.J. Taylor into the mix, the Patriots have six running backs with a viable chance to make the 53-man roster.
New England also has a history of “redshirting” rookie running backs, which Harris can attest to, as can Taylor.
Stevenson made a statement that he may be further along than his position coach suggested last week, but there’s still a long way to go before he’s a factor in a regular-season game.