One of the big questions going into the opener last against the Steelers was who the Patriots' primary running back would be with LeGarrette Blount suspended. It turned out to be Dion Lewis, and he was very good.
The former 2011 fifth round draft pick was the feature back last night and finished his regular season debut with 69 yards on 15 carries and also caught four passes for 51 yards.
Lewis was able to find and exploit holes the Patriots' offensive line created for him, showed nice speed and quickness and was able to bounce off and run through tackles with ease. This was the type of performance the Patriots will happily take, since Lewis adds a bit of a different element to the running game than Blount does.
His only big-time gaffe came when he fumbled on the 1 yard line after a long catch and run. Luckily, Rob Gronkowski was able to recover the ball and score shortly thereafter. Lewis didn't receive the Stevan Ridley treatment, as he was in on the Patriots' following drive.
With each touch Lewis got, I was reminded more and more of Danny Woodhead. A short guy who can do a little of everything. In no way am I saying he's the next Woodhead, but it sort of felt like that's what I was seeing.
A few preseason games and one regular season game are a small sample size, so let's not jump the gun just yet, but Lewis's performance was encouraging. If he can consistently have games like last night, the Patriots will have once again found a diamond in the rough.
The combination of Blount and Lewis in the backfield could end up being a nice 1-2 punch considering their styles. But who knows? It could be all James White next week.
With the Patriots, we truly never know. It'll be interesting to see how they work Blount and Lewis into the game next week at Buffalo.
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