New England Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson played quite well in training camp and the preseason, but a fumble in the team's Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins saw the University of Oklahoma product miss the next three games.
He got another chance in Sunday's Week 5 win versus the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
With starting running back Damien Harris unable to play late in the second half because of a chest injury, Stevenson and veteran Brandon Bolden got the majority of the snaps. Stevenson ran for 23 yards on 11 carries, with his longest rush going for nine yards.
If Harris is unable to play in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, or is limited with his injury, Stevenson could see an even large role in the offense. Either way, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears is confident the 23-year-old rookie is ready to find his groove and be productive.
Stevenson has a powerful run style that the Patriots can use to their advantage, especially near the goal line where his strength will help him fight for extra yards.
The most important thing is protecting the football, which the Patriots have not done a good job of throughout their running back group this season.
Harris has coughed up the ball twice in the red zone, including a Week 1 fumble that cost the Patriots a victory. J.J. Taylor fumbled in field goal range during a Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stevenson, as noted above, also fumbled in the season opener.
If Stevenson can hang on to the ball, he could be a very useful player for the Patriots this season. They need to run the football effectively to take some pressure off rookie quarterback Mac Jones. He's had to shoulder too much of the offensive burden through five games.