Sony Michel is the Patriots’ big back, James White is their third-down option and they re-signed Kenjon Barner this week. But on the surface, White (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) and Barner (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) don’t seem like great depth options as early-down runners if Michel (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) goes down with an injury.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick disagrees.
“Yeah, I think all of our backs are productive, can be productive,” Belichick said Friday when asked if he’d be confident in White and Barner in early-down roles.
Barner has 77 career carries for 317 yards with three touchdowns in four seasons. White has 126 carries for 497 yards with two touchdowns in five seasons. White has rarely worked as an early-down back in the Patriots’ offense, mostly catching passes out of the backfield. He has 175 career catches for 1,538 yards with 14 touchdowns.
If Michel went down with an injury, the Patriots likely would have to make a trade or sign a running back, but it seems New England at least would have enough confidence in White and Barner in an emergency situation.
The Patriots’ top early-down running back last season was Dion Lewis, who’s 5-foot-8, 195 pounds, so size isn’t everything when it comes to the position.