Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson Reflects on ‘Stressful, Successful’ Rookie Years – NFL Nation

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. True to the nature of his position, Rhamondre Stevenson felt he was running non-stop from the time the New England Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Now, with a chance to exhale, the running back can reflect on his rookie campaign.

“It was a little stressful, but successful I would say. Those are two words I would use,” Stevenson told ESPN.com. “It was stressful just because of the NFL player’s daily laugh. But the success part was on the field and learning to be a professional.”

While the Patriots pick up the pieces from a disappointing end to the 2021 season – being blown up by the Buffalo Bills 47-17 in the wildcard round of the playoffs – Stevenson represents a promising piece to build around after rushing to 606 yards on 133 carries (4, 6 yard average) with five touchdowns.

A timely side note: His presence ultimately helped the Patriots trade Sony Michel back to the Los Angeles Rams in August for a sixth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-round pick in 2023, with Michel playing a supporting role in the Rams’ run-up to the Super Bowl. LVI vs. Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday (18:30 ET, NBC).

It turned out to be a win-win deal for both teams, especially after Stevenson overcame some early hiccups with blitz pick-up and ball safety and adapted to the daily demands of being a professional, to reach his step within the second half. of the season as a potent addition to top rusher Damien Harris.

If Stevenson is to skip Harris in 2022, he will start the offseason, and his first snap of the Patriots’ playoff loss highlights the area he prioritizes.

The 6-foot, 226-pound Stevenson did not come in until the third series of the game, and by that time with 7:14 left in the second quarter, the team was already down 20-0. On the piece, the Oklahoma alum first adjusted wide to the left as part of an empty formation. Quarterback Mac Jones, in the shotgun, then moved to him to line up next to him in the backfield.

Stevenson did so before flaring out to the left to catch a quick pass to a 4-yard win.

“It’s a big focus this offseason, just running routes and catching out of the backfield,” said Stevenson, who had four catches for 33 yards in the playoff loss and 14 receptions for 123 yards in the regular season.

That work begins at Michael Johnson Performance in Dallas, where Stevenson worked with Bryan McCall last season. And so when the Patriots begin their volunteer offseason program in April, Stevenson said he plans to attend.

This is where he can continue to build chemistry with teammates like Jones, with whom he has already developed a close bond.

“The stress I was talking about, we went through on the same path, so we already had good chemistry, a good relationship,” Stevenson said. “He’s a cool guy. I can talk to him about anything – football related or not.”

He added that the strong connection with other running backs Harris, James White, Brandon Bolden and JJ Taylor helped him make it through his rookie season.

And in late January, Stevenson also enjoyed time with fellow rookie Ronnie Perkins and offensive linemen Justin Herron, Mike Onwenu and Will Sherman at the Panini NFL Rookie Closeout event, where he signed his rookie cards and embraced a hobby he has had , since he was young. His favorite is a Bo Jackson rookie card, and a Shawn Michaels wrestling card is among those he places at the top of the list.

Before the end of the season, longtime Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears noted Stevenson’s growth over the course of the year, saying, “You have to love the way the kid has adapted to who we are and what we need from him. He has taken everything it commented in the world and has gotten better. Much better. I think if he continues with that, he will be something special. “

The Fears are expected to retire this offseason after 31 NFL seasons and 25 with the Patriots, and Stevenson said he is in debt to him.

“I learned a lot from him. He’s been around a lot of great running backs and knows what a great running back should look like and perform,” he said.

Fears think the Patriots have one.

And now Stevenson plans to put in offseason work to prove he’s right.

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