In 2008, the New England Patriots signed an undrafted free-agent running back from the University of Mississippi. This coming Monday, on national television, that same player will likely get the starting nod.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was an unknown rookie, merely a part of the practice squad three seasons ago. That same season, Green-Ellis was promoted and debuted in the National Football League against the San Diego Chargers. His line read: 1 REC, 9 YDS.
Sure nothing too thrilling. But you can bet that the rookie was excited that he contributed.
The very next game, he made his debut on national television with his first NFL start. Laurence Maroney was shelved with an injury and Coach Belichick gave the keys to the Mercedes to Green-Ellis. The Denver Broncos were in town and the Patriots didn’t disappoint, winning in a landslide 41-7. Green-Ellis turned some heads as well, racking 65 yards on 13 attempts with a 1-yard goal-line touchdown.
Not bad for the rookie.
Last week against the Bills, “The Law Firm” entered the game for an injured Fred Taylor and successfully stabilized the flow of the game. With 16 attempts, Green-Ellis ran for 98 yards and averaged a whopping 6.1 yards per carry. The emergence of Green-Ellis in that game allowed the Patriots to slow down their offense while picking up much-need first-downs, thus killing the clock.
Green-Ellis didn’t hesitate when he had the ball in his hands on Sunday. He found the hole quickly and punched his way through. He’s not a “dancer”, much like former teammate Maroney. More importantly, he ran the ball with confidence.
Of course one has to consider the opponent in the subpar Buffalo Bills. However, Green-Ellis still looked much improved, which could mean great things for the Patriots. He could very well be a productive back in the Patriots system this season, which is all Coach Belichick could ask for.
Yes, Green-Ellis is undrafted. But from past emergences of similar undraftees such as Ryan Grant, Willie Parker, Arian Foster, Priest Holmes, Dominic Rhodes, and Fred Jackson, the draft clearly isn’t a trustworthy depiction of talent and development. Just ask Wes Welker what he thinks of the draft.
This coming Monday, the 25-year-old running back returns to Monday Night Football against a bigger opponent in the division rival, Miami Dolphins. Without a doubt, Green-Ellis will look to do some damage and make his mark on the national stage.
Due to Taylor’s questionable toe injury, Green-Ellis has another chance to take the starting job. With three years of experience in the Patriots system, he will be sure to execute and prevail as the Patriots starting running back.
“Everybody is just trying to go out there and contribute,” said Green-Ellis. “We are all trying to contribute to the same goal – to get better.”
Green-Ellis has done just that.