The numbers at running back for the Patriots were shaved down a bit further on Tuesday as the team released Donald Brown.
Brown was release as well as veteran corner EJ Biggers and defensive lineman Frank Kearse, Bill Belichick confirmed at his Tuesday afternoon press conference. With three more cuts in addition to yesterday's releases, the Patriots 90-man roster is down to 83 players. By Aug. 30, the roster will be required to sit at 75 players.
The most surprising of Tuesday's cuts was that of Brown, who had the benefit of playing a position that looks particularly light for the Patriots at the moment. With Dion Lewis unavailable to start the regular season, the Patriots now have LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney and Joey Iosefa to choose from in order to make up their Week 1 roster.
Brown looked quick during Patriots practices earlier this offseason, but he has not practiced in full for weeks due to injury, often doing conditioning on a lower field while the majority of his teammates ran through drills or participated in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.
Brown, 29, was guaranteed $300,000 when he signed with the Patriots this offseason. He was coming off of a season in 2015 in which he played nine games and rushed 59 times for 229 yards and a touchdown. Had he been able to remain healthy, Brown could have provided the Patriots with somewhat of a dual-threat in the backfield capable of taking hand-offs and serving as a receiver. He caught just eight passes last year, but in the two years prior to that he made 27 and 29 receptions.
"I think Donald’s done a good job picking up the offense," Belichick said of Brown back on Aug. 3. "I don’t think that’s really been an issue. Donald is fast, he has good ability to stretch the field, to get outside, to run inside, quality kid, good worker, smart, very professional. He works hard at his job, always prepared, always does the right thing, puts a lot into it. He’s been a pleasure to coach. He’s good to have on the team."
Blount and White seem to be locks as the team's top "big back" and "sub back," respectively. Bolden also appears to be a safe bet to make the team for his special teams ability, and because of a skill set that allows him to serve as a back up either running back role in the Patriots offense. Gaffney, who has seen a significant amount of work in practices and in preseason games thus far, could earn himself a roster spot with continued dependable performances leading up to the regular season.