FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots cut ties with one of Rhamondre Stevenson’s understudies Monday, releasing veteran running back James Robinson just three months after signing him.

One day later, Bill Belichick expressed confidence in New England’s other reserve rushers.

The Patriots head coach praised Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris ahead of the team’s second mandatory minicamp practice.

“Ty looks healthy — really healthy,” Belichick said. “He was pretty much back shortly after the end of the season in terms of recovery. But he gives us a lot of position versatility on offense and in the kicking game. He’s a smart kid, has good size, explosive speed. It’s good to have him out there. He can do a lot of different things. We look forward to having him.”

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The musclebound Montgomery has seen action at both running back and wide receiver during spring practice. The 30-year-old entered last season as the Patriots’ primary third-down back but suffered what proved to be a season-ending injury in Week 1.

With wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Tyquan Thornton both currently sidelined by injuries, Montgomery has been heavily involved in the passing game in organized team activities and minicamp.

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“Ty looks healthy — really healthy.”

Bill Belichick on running back/receiver Ty Montgomery

Strong and Harris are 2022 draft picks (fourth and sixth round, respectively) entering their second NFL campaign. Neither saw much offensive playing time in 2022. Strong rushed 10 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, caught seven passes for 49 yards and committed a couple of costly errors on special teams. Harris logged 18 carries for 52 yards and one score.

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Strong and Harris both have had positive moments in offseason practices — the former caught all eight of his targets in competitive drills Tuesday and has seen ample reps with starting quarterback Mac Jones — but it’s hard to properly evaluate running backs when players aren’t wearing pads and live contact is forbidden.

Belichick said both second-year pros have shown improvement in pass protection and blitz pickup. Patriots rookies often struggle in those areas, which typically results in a lack of playing time.

“Kevin and Pierre have done a good job there,” Belichick said. “We’ll see what happens when the pads come on. I mean, there’s knowing who to block and there’s blocking them. It’s Part A and Part B; you can’t do one without the other. But they both have a good willingness to do that. They showed that last year. … They’ve both come along well. I’d put Ty in that category, too.”

Stevenson is New England’s unquestioned lead back after a breakout 2022 season in which he amassed the fourth-most yards from scrimmage by a Belichick-era Patriots player. But the team did not have a reliable backup for him, forcing Stevenson to take on a massive workload that ultimately wore him down late in the year.

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Robinson was viewed as the potential new No. 2 when the Patriots signed him in March and let Damien Harris walk to Buffalo, but ongoing injury issues resulted in a swift exit for the 24-year-old. Now, the Patriots are banking on some combination of Montgomery, Strong, Kevin Harris and J.J. Taylor to give Stevenson the support he needs.

They also could add another backfield body before training camp opens in late July. The list of unsigned backs includes notable names like Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Kenyan Drake, Darrell Henderson, Melvin Gordon and J.D McKissic.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images