BOSTON (CBS) — With Sony Michel’s Week 7 knee injury being more of a scare than a season-ending situation, the current situation for the Patriots’ backfield looks a lot better than it did a few weeks ago. But there’s always room for improvement.
And so, with news breaking Monday that the Panthers have waived veteran running back C.J. Anderson, one must wonder if the Patriots might make a play for the former Broncos back.
Anderson is a six-year veteran but is still just 27 years old. Last year was his best in the NFL, when he topped 1,000 yards for the first time while getting a career-high 245 carries for Denver. He signed with the Panthers in the offseason, but with Christian McCaffrey taking on a workhorse type of role for the Carolina offense (123 carries, 54 receptions), Anderson’s seen a limited role in the offense.
The Patriots currently have Michel, James White and Kenjon Barner on the roster at running back, though receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson has taken on a role in the backfield as well. Rex Burkhead remains a possibility to return from injured reserve. Yet with Michel’s injury battles and White’s heavy usage, the Patriots may feel a need to add a capable back for the stretch run of the season and then the postseason.
Anderson was given just 24 carries in Carolina, picking up 104 yards. He does have one reception — a 24-yard touchdown.
The Patriots were reportedly interested in Anderson a couple of years ago, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get involved in a potential pursuit.
“Anderson’s done a great job for them,” Belichick said last November before a game in Denver. “A hard-running guy, tough, good balance, gets a lot of tough yards.”
Anderson has also expressed some admiration for Tom Brady on social media, dedicating a post to the Patriots’ quarterback after the Broncos beat the Patriots in the 2015 AFC title game.
View this post on Instagram
I know a lot of people hate this man but man when he was pick 199 and was over look he inspired me I was undrafted and over came all the odds so bless what he told me at the end of this game. He said "CJ way to fight and prove everybody wrong you belong in this league and your one hell of a player I love the way you run keep climbing to be great" those words meant so much growing up watching Tom overcame I'm proud to say I'm 3-2 vs his teams and proud to say I get to battle him every year. Thanks Tom for telling me those words they will stick and I know a lot of people don't like you but I have MAD RESPECT. Thanks I see you overcome as others in this league and now it's my turn. 💯🏈🙏🏾🙏🏾
“I know a lot of people hate this man but man when he was pick 199 and was over look he inspired me I was undrafted and overcame all the odds so bless what he told me at the end of this game,” Anderson wrote on Instagram. “He said ‘CJ way to fight and prove everybody wrong you belong in this league and [you’re] one hell of a player I love the way you run keep climbing to be great.’ Those words meant so much. … Thanks Tom for telling me those words they will stick and I know a lot of people don’t like you but I have MAD RESPECT.”
The Patriots rank 27th in yards per rushing attempt and 18th in rushing yards per game, but they are tied for third in the league with 12 rushing touchdowns this season.