It’s hard to tell how well this particular New England team will perform this season. Is the defense good enough? Will the offense improve all that much?
Maybe. But we know for sure that the roster the Patriots had in September will change with the frequency of the cast of “Breaking Bad.” It’s a tough business; people get hurt.
(Yup. Just compared professional football to meth dealing. Hello, Pulitzer!)
New England’s championship teams have a few things in common, one of them being the ability of lesser-known players to step up when needed. Guys like Patrick Pass, Larry Centers and J. R. Redmond don’t enter fans’ minds every day, but each contributed to championships. With recent knee issues plaguing Stevan Ridley, long-term pains for Shane Vereen, and various injuries to Leon Washington, the Patriots might keep an eye out for some running back help.
We were thinking about these guys.
Maybe Not Great Scott, But Decent Scott: Third-year Maryland alum Da’Rel Scott was released by the Giants last week after a rough performance at Kansas City with a muffed handoff and a dropped pass. (New York just re-signed him in the wake of injuries to their RB corps, but the Pats should keep an eye on his status) In 2011, he had an impressive combine, running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds 19 times. Thus far this season he is averaging 3.5 yards per carry (16 for 56) in a non-starting role. The 5-11, 210-pounder could add depth to a depleted ball-carrier corps (hey, he already is).
High School Fun Fact: Scott lettered in football, basketball and track at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High in Pennsylvania. As a junior, he won the state title in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.56 seconds.
A Ray Of Hope: During this spring’s pro day at Pittsburgh, the Patriots were reportedly one of the teams to send a scout to see Ray Graham in action. The mighty mite (5-9, 199) had a slow 40 (4.7 seconds) and only a decent 3-cone drill (7.03 seconds), but he seems to play faster than those times. Graham made First Team All-Big East his last two years at Pitt, rushing for 1,042 yards and 11 TDs as a senior. Currently on the Texans’ practice squad, Graham had seven rushes for 29 yards and one touchdown in the preseason.
High School Fun Fact: At Elizabeth High in New Jersey, Graham rushed for 1,592 yards, averaging nine per carry as a senior. Eight of his 24 touchdowns came on plays of 60 yards or more. Also named an All-County point guard.
A Winn In Oakland? Summertime Patriot George Winn – now on the Oakland practice squad – averaged 3.9 yards per carry vs. the Giants in New England’s final preseason game (14 carries for 54 yards) and scored one touchdown. He registers as a bigger back (5-11, 218) from a Cincinnati program that has some credibility given the success of undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. Winn rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bearcats in 2012.
High School Fun Fact: Winn averaged almost eight yards per carry and rushed for over 3,000 yards in his career at University of Detroit Jesuit High.
Hey Mr. D. J.: If New England’s looking for a smaller, pass-catching back, Arkansas alum Dennis Jonnson has a Danny Woodhead-ish look to him at 5-7, 195 pounds. He did a little of everything for the Razorbacks, totaling 5,330 yards rushing (2,036), receiving (510), and returning kicks (2,784). This summer, he had 28 carries for 98 yards and four catches for 25 yards for the Texans. The Browns picked him up but waived him by early September.
High School Fun Fact: At Arkansas High in Texarkana, Johnson rushed for 1,529 yards and 20 TDs and scored four times on punt returns his senior year.
“Hard” Plus “Travesty” Equals “Hardesty”: Former Browns second-rounder (and now just former Brown) Montario Hardesty (6-0, 225) has constantly dealt with knee issues and was waived by Cleveland last month after getting placed on injured reserve in August following arthroscopic surgery. Hardesty played in only 23 games in three seasons and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.
Hey, we’re not being picky, here. We’re just looking for someone who can take on a few carries and spell the horses in the stable.
High School Fun Fact: In his senior season at New Bern High in North Carolina, Hardesty rushed for 2,002 yards. Also ran a 10.36-second 100-meter dash for the track team.
Where There’s A Williams, There’s A Waive: For a speedier option, the Pats could check out rookie Kerwynn Williams, a seventh-round pick from Utah State who has been off and on the Colts practice squad since early September. Williams fits the prototypical third-down back profile, measuring 5-8, 195 and exhibiting a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine this past spring. At Utah State, he totaled 1,583 yards rushing (6.9 yards per carry) for 15 touchdowns and 697 yards receiving (48 catches, 15.2 yards per) for five scores.
High School Fun Fact: Williams played receiver and running back as a junior at Valley High in Las Vegas before switching to quarterback his senior year. At QB, he averaged 10.7 yards per run (182 per game), totaling 2,002 yards and 31 TDs on the year. He also threw for 707 yards and added 700 total return yards for good measure.
Seawolf. Seawolf Run. Run, Seawolf, Run: Rookie Miguel Maysonet (5-9, 209) did a little bit of everything for Stony Brook, rushing for 1,964 yards and 21 touchdowns and averaging almost 26 yards per kickoff return. Maysonet became a Seawolf after transferring from Hofstra, which disbanded its football program. He has spent time in Philly, Indy and Cleveland. The Eagles picked him up as an undrafted free agent in April; the Chargers just signed him to their practice squad.
High School Fun Fact: In his career at Riverhead High in New York, Maysonet totaled 5,963 rushing yards and 74 TDs. So, that’s pretty good.
All We Are Saying, Is Give Pease A Chance: Rookie Angelo Pease out of Kansas State (5-10, 211) possesses decent speed (4.50 40), quickness (7.08-second 3-cone drill) and strength (25 strength lifts). At KSU, Pease averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 4.6 yards per reception in a limited role, yet still had the third-most yards rushing with 333.
High School Fun Fact: As a senior at Cairo High in Georgia (Go Syrupmakers!), Pease was named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State Offensive Player of the Year in 2008, running for 882 yards and passing for 19 TDs.
Surely, Temple: After getting dismissed from Boston College due to unspecified team issues, running back Montel Harris concluded his career at Temple, where the 5-8, 208-pound bulldog rushed for 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns. Though not a speedster (4.56 40), Harris does seem to have the requisite quickness required of a smaller back (6.84 3-cone). He had brief stints with the Eagles, Buccaneers and even the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL, but has yet to find a professional home.
Choo, choo! Redemption train, coming through!
High School Fun Fact: In Jacksonville, Florida, Harris led the Trinity Christian High Conquerors (let’s not mince words, there) in rushing, receiving and scoring for three straight years.
Any backs you think might add depth to New England’s roster, let us know below.
Chris Warner enjoys watching NFL games on DVR 30 minutes after they start so he can zip through the commercials and catch up by the fourth quarter. You can email him at email@example.com or tweet @cwarn89