Patriots

Sony Michel or James White? Both Patriots RBs should see role in passing game

Sony Michel or James White? Both Patriots RBs should see role in passing game

What makes the New England Patriots' offense successful? The same reason it frustrates fantasy football owners: unpredictability.

That's why the Patriots' 2018 running back group was an anomaly. Sony Michel was the one-dimensional "bell cow" who led the team with 931 rushing yards but caught just seven passes for 50 yards, while James White was the souped-up change-of-pace back who tallied a team-high 87 receptions for 751 yards.

But the Patriots covet versatility, which is why Michel has tried to make strides as a pass-catcher this offseason. Running backs coach Ivan Fears apparently likes what he sees so far.

"Much improved, much better than he was last year," Fears told Mac Cerullo of the Newburyport Daily News on Monday. "Last year I thought it was a lot for him, this year he's pretty good at it, he's going to be very good at it."

So, if Michel is more involved in New England's passing game, does that mean fewer opportunities for White? Hardly, said Fears, who suggested the shifty 27-year-old will still get plenty of carries.

"We like to be in that kind of mode, they've got to worry about Sony catching the ball as well as running the ball," Fears said.

"I think you'll find Sony is going to do very well in the passing game, and I bet you'll find James White and the rest of the guys doing very well in the running game also."

Michel and White will have to compete for touches with a loaded wide receiver corps that includes Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and rookie N'Keal Harry. But there were enough points to go around in 2018, as White was the eighth-best running back in fantasy football (half-PPR scoring) last season, while Michel finished 27th despite missing three games.

Tom Brady is entering his age-42 season, and the Patriots boast a strong offensive line led by Dante Scarnecchia. That bodes well for New England's running back duo: Both Michel and White could be top-25 fantasy performers this season, with Michel slightly higher on our draft board due to his untapped potential in the passing game.

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Tom Brady laughs off Patriots injury report designation: 'I'm feeling really good'

Tom Brady laughs off Patriots injury report designation: 'I'm feeling really good'

The New England Patriots' Thursday injury report raised some eyebrows as Tom Brady was downgraded to limited in practice. But per usual, the injury designation doesn't seem to be a cause for concern.

In fact, Brady couldn't help but laugh when asked about being listed with elbow and toe ailments. During his Thursday night appearance on Westwood One with Jim Gray, Brady assured Patriots fans he'll be good to go vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

“That might be the first time my toe’s been on the injury report,” Brady said. “So, you know us Patriots. We’re pretty diligent about listing everything. So, I guess you have to make mention of my toe now, as well.”

As for the elbow issue, Brady dealt with it during last week's game in Houston and is ready to do the same at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

“Isn’t there some HIPAA violation or something like that when I start talking about all of my injuries?” Brady joked. “I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing pretty good. At this time of the year, I’ll take it. I’ll take anything if I’m still able to go out there and feel like I can play my best. I’m feeling really good, really positive about this weekend.”

Kickoff for the much-anticipated Patriots-Chiefs matchup is set for 4:25 p.m., and it sounds like Brady's more than ready for the AFC Championship Game rematch.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: A detailed look at why Tom Brady's time in NE is winding down

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: A detailed look at why Tom Brady's time in NE is winding down

For 19 seasons, Tom Brady has been the unquestioned starter at quarterback for the New England Patriots. And for 19 years, he has started every game that he has been healthy for.

But ahead of the 2020 offseason, Brady's status with the organization remains as questionable as ever.

For the first time in his career, the 42-year-old Brady will be set to hit unrestricted free agency. He agreed to a restructured contract with the team this offseason, but it only gave him a pay raise this season and guaranteed that the team couldn't slap him with the franchise tag.

While Brady could return to the Patriots, it's possible that he could choose to go elsewhere if the team doesn't commit to him financially or surround him with better weaponry.

On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed the possibility of Brady leaving. And as Curran pointed out, that topic hasn't been broached with much seriousness despite the fact that free agency is closer than some may realize.

We're talking about a seismic occurrence in the arc of the dynasty that is basically 90 days away. They could come to some kind of conclusion and rectify it and he might finish his career here, but it doesn't smell that way.

It's important to note that nothing is set in stone, and the Brady-Patriots relationship has endured for two decades for a reason. Despite some strain in the relationship at times, things have always been smoothed over. 

That said, there are some quarterback-needy teams that could attempt to lure Brady away from New England in an attempt to put their team over the top. Curran and Perry identified a few different options on the podcast, one of which was the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hear more from Curran and Perry on the latest episode of "The Patriots Talk Podcast," which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

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