By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots running back room is a little less crowded Wednesday morning, after the team reportedly traded Sony Michel to the L.A. Rams. That’s great news for J.J. Taylor.READ MORE: Chris Sale Returning To Mound For Red Sox Friday Night Vs. Orioles
Running back was easily New England’s deepest position on the roster, and one they were expected to lean heavily on throughout the 2021 season. But with Michel out of the equation, Taylor is essentially off the roster bubble.
The 5-foot-6 running back has made a strong case for a roster spot this summer, with his strongest push coming last Thursday with 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on his 12 carries against the Philadelphia Eagles. Taylor has 103 yards off 14 carries this preseason, plus five punt returns for 79 yards. Taylor, who signed with the Patriots ahead of last season after going undrafted out of Arizona, rushed for 110 yards and returned a punt and four kickoffs over six games for New England in 2020.
Taylor was asked last week what his proudest accomplishment was as he navigates through the start of Year 2 of his NFL career. The back said he was just happy to still be in the mix.READ MORE: Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 2: Is Aaron Rodgers Due For A Big Bounceback Game?
“I think my proudest moment is still being on the team, still getting a chance to be able to work with the guys and just be in here,” he said.
While nothing is ever guaranteed with the Patriots, he can breathe a little easier Wednesday morning.
With the team likely going with a run-heavy offense in 2021, there was always chance that the Patriots could have carried six running backs heading into Week 1. (That includes special teamer Brandon Bolden, who also now has a better shot at landing on the 53-man roster.) But that is no longer a debate that Bill Belichick and company need to have over the next two weeks. With Michel getting a fresh start in Los Angeles, the Patriots can now start the season with Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson (who will also get a bump up the depth chart with the Michel trade), James White, Taylor and Bolden.MORE NEWS: Andrew Farrell Reflects On Setting A Number Of Revolution Records: 'I Just Love To Play'
Michel was going to slot in as New England’s No. 2 back behind Harris, who will now have a much heavier workload in his third NFL season. In turn, everyone else on the running back depth chart will have a little more on their plates. Both Taylor and Stevenson can expect to get some more run with Michel out of the mix, as New England looks to establish itself as one of the more talented rushing teams in 2021.