Patriots

Patriots get a well-rounded performance from their backs without Gillislee

Patriots get a well-rounded performance from their backs without Gillislee

DENVER -- The Patriots might've proved just how deep they are at running back by the caliber of player they were willing to bench on Sunday night against the Broncos. 

Denver's defense came into Sunday night ranked second in total defense and fifth against the run, yet the Patriots sat their leading rusher and still put up big offensive numbers in their 41-16 win. 

Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch against the Broncos on Sunday night, giving the Patriots four active backs: Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden. They combined for 99 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, and they caught six passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns. 

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Gillislee averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in New England's two games leading up to the matchup in Denver. And while he gives the Patriots a different kind of runner as the team's "big back," the Patriots were OK going without him against a stout run defense. 

Lewis (21 snaps) started the game and ran with good power -- particularly on his eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, during which he carried Aqib Talib about four yards into the end zone. 

Burkhead (36 snaps) came in after Lewis opened the game, catching two passes on his first two snaps, including a 14-yard touchdown. Burkhead ended up leading the position group in playing time, and for the third consecutive game since coming back from a rib injury, he saw his workload increase. 

White (11 snaps) saw five touches, the last of which was an eight-yard touchdown on an option route that completely shook linebacker Will Parks. 

The Patriots invested in the running back position this offseason when they signed both Burkhead and Gillislee. Now they have more backs than they know what to do with. 

Bolden is active on a weekly basis for what he gives the team in the kicking game, but he's no longer the only back who contributes on special teams. Burkhead made two tackles as a member of the kickoff team, and he blocked a punt that helped set up a field goal. Lewis, meanwhile, returned a kick 103 yards for a score. 

It's a dynamic group that can run, catch and chip in on "teams," and they put on display their varied skill sets Sunday night. 

Though Lewis has seemingly taken on any role that Gillislee (who isn't used as a receiver and doesn't play special teams) might handle, the Patriots may opt to bring Gillislee back into the fold when they see a matchup that might favor a bigger back. And if they do, the league will see they have yet another wrinkle to their running game. 

As it is, it's already a headache, as Sunday night's performance showed. 

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Kraft quick to show support in wake of Weymouth officer's death

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Kraft quick to show support in wake of Weymouth officer's death

Tragedy struck the city of Weymouth Sunday morning when police officer Michael Chesna was killed in the line of duty and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was quick to offer his condolences.

According to WCVB, Kraft stopped by the Weymouth Police Department Headquarters around noontime on Sunday and gave them “words of encouragement.”

Chesna, 42, was killed responding to a call regarding an erratic driver near South Shore Hospital and words of support have been quick to come from all corners of the state, and beyond.

“His death is a senseless tragedy & I ask you to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Gov. Charlie Baker via Twitter.

Police have identified a suspect in the shooting as 20-year-old Emanuel Lopes from Weymouth has been taken into police custody.

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it

I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays. 

Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them. 

It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.

ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick. 

While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise. 

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