Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson strikes at the perfect time – NFL Nation

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was just around the time that the New England Patriots rookie runback Rhamondre Stevenson turned his season around, in early November, and longtime captain David Andrews was briefly stopped in his tracks.

The gracious center smiled and chuckled to herself. He gathered his thoughts on Stevenson. Then he smiled and chuckled to himself again.

“You’ll find out why I’m laughing after the season,” Andrews said. “He’s been great to have.”

If things go as his Patriots teammates hope, the revelation about Stevenson, who made Andrews laugh, will not come until mid-February – after the Super Bowl.

The Patriots have already won a spot in the playoffs as they prepare for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium (16:25 ET, CBS), and a theme has quickly become clear: They are best when Stevenson’s hard-charged race is a central part of their plan.

The 6-foot, 226-pound fourth-round pick from Oklahoma mates with Damien Harris to form a potent one-two-stroke. When Harris was rested in the second half of Sunday’s 5-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Stevenson took over and finished with a season-high 107 yards on 19 carries, with two touchdowns.

It was the second game with more than 100 yards and two goals for the rookie, who enters week 18 with 129 carries for 572 rushing yards (4.4 per carry) and five touchdowns.

“Of course Mondre is a great player, but he’s an even better person,” Harris said.

Stevenson had been inactive (on the reserve / COVID-19 list) the previous game – a 33-21 loss in Week 16 against the Buffalo Bills.

“Everyone is going through it right now with COVID in the NFL. It was just one of those cases where I was tested positive and I had to wait a few days to come back. I’m here now,” he said. “It means the world. Not being out with my team and watching TV is probably the worst thing to do. There’s nothing like being on the field with them.”

Stevenson had been on the field in Week 15 when Harris was out due to a hamstring injury. But the Patriots came back early against the Indianapolis Colts, making it harder to rely on him. He finished with 10 carries for 36 yards.

Andrews called Stevenson a “hard, fast, physical boy” who “when he comes into space can do many things well.” The two seem to have a fun connection, with Andrews ‘sideline call from “‘ Mondre! ‘Mondre!’ Mondre! ” – from a game in late October where Andrews wore a microphone to the NFL Films – and became a kind of rallying point.

Coach Bill Belichick has been impressed with Stevenson’s growth over the course of the season.

“Mondre has improved a lot. He only had one year in Oklahoma. He picked up a lot there, but he just keeps developing in all areas – running, passing protection, flash pickup, just overall patience in the running game, decision-making and ball safety, “he said.

“He has been asked to do a lot of things and he has spent the extra time and really embraced the coaching and the details he has been given and tried to carry it out. And he has. I think he deserved it. everyone’s respect for his work ethic and his willingness to help the team in any way he can. “

Stevenson’s fights in the early season have been well documented – how he played five snaps in the season opener against Miami, lost a fumble and struggled with a blitz pickup that led to him being benched in three games.

He returned for two games before being surprisingly inactive for a game in late October against the New York Jets.

He played in seven games in a row before COVID-19 knocked him out.

“For how big he is, he’s smooth,” tight-end Hunter Henry said of Stevenson. “He can get in and out of his cuts. He has big vision for a young back. He has a bright future.”

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