JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sony Michel was in a tough spot Sunday.
After missing the entire preseason, nearly a month of training camp and the regular-season opener with a knee injury, the New England Patriots rookie running back faced the unenviable task of making his NFL debut against arguably the league’s best defense.
The result? Pretty much what you would expect from a player in that situation.
Playing in his first game since the College Football Playoff National Championship in January, Michel carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards and caught one pass on two targets for 7 yards in New England’s 31-20 loss to the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.
Still, the first-round draft pick was disappointed with his performance. Asked for a self-assessment after the game, Michel simply replied: “Not enough. Not good enough to win a game.”
Michel did show potential during the Patriots’ ugly defeat, which dropped them to 1-1 on the young season. He showcased his versatility by splitting out wide and catching a 7-yard pass on his first offensive snap, and he bulldozed safety Tashaun Gipson on an impressive 15-yard carry up the middle late in the third quarter.
“Guys doing their jobs,” Michel said of that run, which helped set up New England’s first touchdown of the afternoon. “Everybody blocking. Just executing the play. … I think it was good for the team. I think it was a big gain for the team but not enough to win the game.”
The Patriots as a team struggled to run the ball against Jacksonville’s vaunted front seven, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on 24 attempts. Michel shouldered the heaviest workload, finishing with as many carries as Rex Burkhead (six for 22 yards) and James White (four for 11 yards) combined.
“They played as expected,” Michel said of the Jaguars. “Good defense, fast defense, flew to the ball pretty well. That’s what they did all day (Sunday). I’ve just got to do a better job of doing my job.”
Quarterback Tom Brady also scrambled 10 yards for a first down during the team’s ill-fated comeback attempt.
“Sony’s worked hard,” Brady said. “He had a tough injury early in camp and had some opportunities (Sunday). He’ll learn from them. He ran hard when he had some chances. He’s got some great mentors in James White and Rex to learn from, so hopefully he can keep building on what he’s done thus far.”