The New England Patriots took a slight risk while trimming their roster down to 53 players by keeping just four running backs.
Twitter doctors feared the worst for Hill but also provided best-case scenarios.
The Patriots kept Hill, Rex Burkhead, James White and rookie Sony Michel on their initial 53-man roster and cut Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden, Kenneth Farrow, Khalfani Muhammad and rookie Ralph Webb. Gillislee signed with the New Orleans Saints, Bolden caught on with the Miami Dolphins and the Patriots signed Webb to their practice squad.
If Michel were healthy and Hill’s injury isn’t season-ending, then the Patriots could continue to get by with Burkhead, White and Michel for the time being. But Michel was limited all week in practice with a knee injury and inactive for Week 1. It wouldn’t be smart to play Michel, who has a history of knee issues, until he’s fully healthy.
So, what happens if both Michel and Hill can’t go in Week 2?
If it’s a season-ending injury for Hill, then the Patriots could choose to sign Webb off the practice squad. They could sign a veteran free agent on the open market. Here’s a full list of players available. They worked out Kenjon Barner and Matthew Dayes last week. They also showed interest in Orleans Darkwa this spring. Some other interesting names include Terrance West and Thomas Rawls. The Patriots could also sign a running back off another team’s practice squad, though he’d need to stick on New England’s roster for three weeks.
If it’s not a season-ending injury for Hill, then it’s possible the Patriots wouldn’t want to risk slipping Webb back onto their practice squad when they’ll have an excess of running backs later in the season. In that case, perhaps they could bring back Farrow for a few weeks or sign one of those running backs we listed above.
It seems unlikely the Patriots would swing a trade for a running back, since they still have Burkhead, White and Michel, but it’s possible. The most likely scenario is they call up Webb from the practice squad.
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