Rhamondre Stevenson has drawn high praise from Patriots teammates and coach Bill Belichick. New England’s rookie tailback has emerged as a perennial starter for the Patriots after being a healthy scratch for several weeks in the early going of the season.
“I’ve been impressed by Rhamondre’s growth,” said Belichick. “He’s very coachable. When you ask him to do something, he really tries hard to do it the way that you want him to do it. He’s improved greatly in every area of the game.”
With Damien Harris out for Week 10 vs. the Browns, J.J. Taylor and Stevenson, who had been flip-flopping basically every week on the inactive list, both dressed against Cleveland. However, Stevenson took advantage of the open hole at RB1 much more than Taylor did as he rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries, notching a pair of scores, while Taylor had just six carries on 11 yards.
This was the turning point in Stevenson’s season, as he’s started every week since then.
“I just feel like I’m progressing in every area possible and I’m really focusing on everything,” said Stevenson. “I’m not really putting all my effort into one thing or anything like that, I’m just working on my whole game and trying to get better.”
The 23-year-old rookie back had some issues with fumbles in preseason, as well as early in the season which heavily plagued his playing time. Belichick is a stickler for fumbles.
However, Stevenson has not fumbled since his Week-1 fumble and has gained the trust of Belichick and everyone in the organization.
“He’s a player that has gained a lot of trust and confidence from his teammates, certainly from the coaching staff, really in every area,” Belichick said. “Running game, the passing game, ball security, blitz pick-up, run reads, run techniques, so forth, using the blockers and understanding the blocking schemes.”
Stevenson is coming off of his career-high in attempts, as he had 24 carries for 78 yards. Damien Harris exiting the game with a hamstring injury halfway through boosted the carry total, and with Mac Jones only throwing the ball three times, it made it very predictable for Buffalo’s defense which limited him to 78 yards.
He notes his growing pains after being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.
“I think when I first got here I was going through little growing pains and things like that,” Stevenson said. “So yeah, they were on me about all sorts of things, but just getting me better though. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that they were getting on me (about), it was just to make me better. I appreciate that, I think it worked.”
The ex-Oklahoma Sooner has exactly 100 carries this season for 429 yards. He’s tallied three touchdowns while posting a 78.4 PFF grade.
Stevenson was listed as questionable this week but it’s doubtful he doesn’t dress since Damien Harris was recently listed as out after originally being questionable. He’ll be the RB1, while Taylor and Brandon Bolden will both be utilized.
Some argue that Stevenson should be the permanent RB1, over Harris.
“He just gets better every day he goes out on the field. So, he’s been great to work with and has really shown a lot of improvement, consistency, consistency in his daily routine and being out on the field just continues to get better, because he is out there practicing every day and trying to take the instruction and coaching that Ivan [Fears] and Vinnie (Sunseri) and Josh (McDaniels) are giving him.
“I think anybody on the team would tell you that he’s improved tremendously from where he was, let’s call it in July, to where he is now. We see it on defense, we see it on offense. He’s just one of those players that’s just gotten a lot better and he’s pretty good to start with, but he just got a lot better in terms of adjusting his skills and his game to the team that he’s on and what we’ve asked him to do.”