Rhamondre Stevenson has enjoyed an impressive rookie season for the New England Patriots. But it’s easy to forget that his season got off to the worst possible start.
The young running back opened his NFL career with a miserable Week 1 performance, losing a fumble and blowing a blitz pickup in a 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins. That rough day earned Stevenson a spot on the inactive list for the next three games. It took him until Week 8 to finally gain a permanent foothold in the Patriots’ offense.
Stevenson proved to be worth the wait. Over the last nine weeks, the fourth-round draft pick ranks third among rookie running backs in rushing yards (498) despite missing one game after testing positive for COVID-19. His 4.79 yards-per-carry average during that span ranks 11th among all backs with 50-plus carries, three spots behind teammate Damien Harris.
Ahead of this Sunday’s Dolphins rematch, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick applauded Stevenson for the improvement he’s shown over the course of this season.
“Mondre’s improved a lot,” Belichick said in a video conference. “He only had one year at Oklahoma, so I think he picked up a lot there, but he’s just continued to develop in all areas — running, pass protection, blitz pickup, just overall patience in the running game and decision-making, ball security. He’s worked really hard.”
Stevenson is coming off his most productive game as a pro, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a 50-10 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the second 100-yard, multi-touchdown performance of his young career, the first coming in a similarly lopsided Week 10 win over the Cleveland Browns.
“Give the kid a lot of credit,” Belichick said. “He’s been asked to do a lot of things, and he’s put in the extra time and really embraced the coaching and the detail that he’s gotten and tried to execute and has. He’s improved tremendously. I think he’s earned everybody’s respect for his work ethic and his willingness to help the team in any way he can.”