Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Everyone talks about the Patriots’ lack of depth at receiver, but I’m not worried about that. Gronk makes up for a lot of it, [Julian] Edelman will be back, [Chris] Hogan is a good player. Phillip Dorsett is coming on. They’ll be fine. I’m more concerned about running back. Rex Burkhead is good, but can’t stay on the field, and Sony Michel hasn’t even been able to get on the field. I miss Dion Lewis. Who do you think ends up leading the Patriots in rushing this year? –John R.
Cordarrelle Patterson, obviously. He’s going to average 10 yards a pop (that’s actually his career per carry average) on 50 reverses. It’s going to be spectacular.
OK, it probably won’t be Patterson, if you have to spoil the fun. Who will it be? Burkhead, if he stays healthy. He’s the leading returning rusher on the roster, with all of 264 rushing yards in 10 games last year. Lewis (896 yards in ’17) and — wait for it — Mike Gillislee (383 yards in nine games) were ahead of him. He’s a good player, capable of being the lead back, but durability hasn’t been his thing. That happens in football, even to tough guys.
I miss Lewis, too. The Patriots haven’t had many running backs who were more fun to watch than that guy. He had some Barry Sanders stuff in his repertoire. I suppose Michel, who is at least practicing now, has a chance to emerge. He is a first-round pick, and if you saw him at Georgia last year, you’ve seen him dazzle. But health was a concern when the Patriots drafted him, and it hasn’t ceased being so yet.
James White? He’s all right, though I still say the first tackle he ever broke happened on his winning touchdown in Super Bowl LI. He’s essential to the offense as a pass catcher, but he’s no lead back, having had just 171 yards last year.
It’s gotta be Burkhead, though I really want to see Michel become a dynamic contributor. But what do you think? Who will lead the Patriots in rushing this year? I’ll hear you in the comments.