The New England Patriots lost one of their most important offensive players on Sunday, as James White went out with a hip injury. That injects some serious uncertainty into that position for the team moving forward.
While Damien Harris is the team’s biggest threat as a rusher, White is the team’s best blocking back, and the team’s top pass catcher out of the backfield. Harris struggled in the blocking department, leading to an increase in playing time for Brandon Bolden, normally a special teamer. He wound up leading the team in running back snaps with 33, to 22 for Harris, with rookie J.J. Taylor picking up 10.
The team’s fourth running back, Rhamondre Stevenson, has been a healthy scratch since Week 1, when he struggled against the Miami Dolphins. The team can use some added depth at the position with White out for a while, and worked out four running backs this week.
Former Atlanta Falcon Ito Smith is probably the most notable name on the list. He’s joined by Ryquell Armstead, Dontrell Hilliard, and Artavis Pierce.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2021
Ito Smith spent his first three NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He has 1,003 career yards from scrimmage and six total rushing and receiving touchdowns, proving to be a pretty versatile weapon as a runner and pass catcher.
Hilliard began his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns in 2018, and spent time with the Houston Texans in 2020. He has 296 career yards and two touchdowns, the bulk of which came with the Browns in 2019.
Armstead, a former Temple Owl, last appeared in 2019 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had 49 touches, totaling 252 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage.
Pierce is the least experienced player of the four. He played in five games for the Chicago Bears in 2020, running for 34 yards and a touchdown. He does not have a career reception, which separates him from the other backs here, who are more versatile threats out of the backfield.
The New England Patriots have a huge game on Sunday night, against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.