Replacing two starting running backs isn’t easy for a team to do, but that’s exactly what the New England Patriots have been tasked with this season. Dion Lewis landed on injured reserve earlier in the season due to a torn ACL, and LeGarrette Blount followed him weeks later.
Now, it’s up to Brandon Bolden and James White to pick up where they left off, boasting a somewhat similar skill set. The Patriots got their first test of life without Blount on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but it wasn’t Bolden or White that got the majority of the carries. It was rookie Joey Iosefa.
Iosefa was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, and saw his first NFL action in Week 15. He carried it 14 times for 51 yards, leading the team in both categories in his debut. He also made his first highlight-reel run in the second quarter, bowling over Coty Sensabaugh for 15 yards.
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“I tried to make a play,” Iosefa said via NESN.com. “That’s all I tried to do. When I have the ball in my hand, I try to make the best out of it, so wherever I see, I hit it.
Although he played the fewest snaps of any Patriots running back (19), he had the biggest impact on the ground. White caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, but it was Iosefa that established the run game. Bill Belichick called him a "grinder" and improved his conditioning since signing with New England in October.
Incredibly, Iosefa was on an FXFL roster to start the year: the Brooklyn Bolts. The Patriots took a shot on him, though, signing him to the practice squad on Oct. 21. It’s unclear if he’ll remain the favorite in the backfield, but it’s a great story nonetheless.