Ivan Fears saw positives and negatives from Sony Michel on Sunday. But overall, he was pleasantly surprised by the third-year back.
Michel finished with 37 yards on 10 carries and scored New England’s final touchdown in a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
“I was pleased with his performance,” Fears, the Patriots’ longtime running backs coach, said Wednesday in a video conference. “I thought overall, it was a very good day for him. I’m glad he was out there a little bit for consecutive plays. His conditioning seemed decent.
“I think there were a lot of things he could improve here. I think he had an opportunity for a huge play when he stumbled over (fullback Jakob Johnson’s) feet. He’s just got to keep his feet up and get through the line, because he missed the opportunity for a big play. But I thought his vision was good for the lack of snaps we’ve had in live situations. He was doing a great job. He really was.”
Michel, a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, missed most of training camp after undergoing offseason foot surgery. He “got heavy” during his layoff, according to Fears, and admitted last week he was still working his way back to full speed.
Though he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry against Miami, Michel fared well in short-yardage situations, converting two third-and-1s and punching in a 1-yard touchdown.
“I was pleased that he was able to bounce back,” Fears said Wednesday. “I didn’t expect him to be able to bounce back this fast. With so much time out, with so much time away from the game, but the guy’s a competitor. He really works hard to do the right thing.
“You’ve got to love him for who he is and the way that he puts his heart into the play and the program. I was really happy with that part. I was happy with his first time out.”
Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead each played 19 offensive snaps against Miami. Undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor played nine. The four backs, quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Julian Edelman combined for 217 total rushing yards on 42 carries, more than the Patriots recorded in any game last season.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images