Monday, October 20, 2014

Gray adds another element to Pats' backfield sans Ridley


Following news that running back Stevan Ridley was out for the season with a knee injury, Patriots fans expected to see an uptick in touches from utility man Shane Vereen in last Thursday's divisional game against the New York Jets, as well as some face time from bruiser Brandon Bolden. 

They got half that, as Bolden saw only one snap and had no carries, while Vereen had a season-high 11 rushing attempts for 43 yards.

What they did see, however, was the premiere of rookie Jonas Gray, who despite receiving only three carries was nonetheless impressive in his first NFL game.  

"He stepped in there and picked up the blitz a couple of times the other night," Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday via Lee Schechter of "So just a young guy that is eager to do whatever is asked of him, and we will continue to work with him and see if we can't continue to build on what we did the other night with him."

Bolden, on the other hand, has seen only 15 attempts this season and averaged 1.7 yards per carry.

Gray's small stature and powerful running style -- nearly identical to Bolden's -- makes him a strong complement to Vereen and adds depth to a rushing attack that finished in the top 10 last year. As McDaniels mentioned, Gray fared well in pass protection against Gang Green, an area where Bolden has struggled in the past. 

If he can continue to impress, both in practice and in his opportunities on the field, it wouldn't be far-fetched to see the former Notre Dame star leapfrog Bolden on the depth chart permanently.

"Jonas works really hard," McDaniels said. "He's been well prepared and done a great job for us on the scout teams here. And certainly made the most of his opportunities in the preseason and just continues to prepare like he is playing each week." 

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