One of the burning questions for the New England Patriots this upcoming 2023 NFL season is the impact of Ezekiel Elliott. Will he be the Zeke of old or will he be the player Skip Bayless says is washed. Or will he be somewhere in between?
Well, the safe bet is going with somewhere in between since the Patriots have a stud running back in Rhamondre Stevenson, who’s star will only shine brighter in this third season in the NFL. That doesn’t mean Elliott’s star will fade, it just means he will give the Bill O’Brien’s offense a solid one-two punch in the backfield.
Ezekiel Elliott comes to Patriots with something to prove in 2023
Coming off a season where he nearly hit 1,000 rushing sharing the rock with Tony Pollard, the former Dallas Cowboys star running back still has something left in the tank. Can Bill Belichick and teaming with Stevenson help revive the 28-year-old running back?
He feels he found the right fit in New England, which is a great start.
"“It’s been a lot of fun. I think I’ve been getting along well with the team,” Zeke said in a 1-on-1 interview with Tamara Brown per the team’s website. “I’ve known Rhamondre for a couple years or so. It’s nice having him in the running back room. I think I’ve been a good fit and I’ve been having fun.”"
Fun in Foxboro?
That’s another good sign Ezekiel Elliott will be more impactful than not with the Patriots. With Mac Jones looking to bounce back from a down sophomore season in the NFL and some offensive weapons that have the potential to be very good as a unit, the Patriots’ offense has the making of being a balanced offense with Stevenson and Elliott leading the running back group. That balance is what attracted the former All-Pro and three-time Pro-Bowler to New England.
"“Just the importance of the back in this offense,” Zeke said of what attracted him to the Patriots. “I think, this is definitely a team that wants to run the ball, wants to be balanced.”"
A healthy and motivated Ezekiel Elliott will help with that.
Patriots rumors: B/R proses a trade that sends veteran DB to Green Bay Packers
As Belichick finalizes the 53-man roster, it is almost a sure bet that there will be a surprise trade or two before the team hits the field for the season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
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With the depth on the defensive side of the ball, one player who could be on the move is defensive back Jalen Mills, who the team cut this offseason just to sign to a 1-year deal.
Although Mills has made his case to stick on the team in the preseason, the Patriots have depth at both the cornerback position and at safety that would make Mills expendable for this trade scenario Bleacher Report is proposing that has the Patriots sending Mills to the Packers to help fill one of Green Bay’s biggest needs…either depth at corner or a starting safety.
B/R writer Alex Ballentine writes:
"“Mills could be an answer on both fronts. If the starting trio of Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas have an injury, Mills would be versatile enough to replace any of them. If they remain healthy, he could be a threat in their starting safety race.”"
Such a deal would only land a mid-to-late round pick for the Patriots, but it would open up a spot for a younger player like rookie Marte Mapu or third-year safety Joshuah Bledsoe to get more opportunity in backup roles.
Such a move will also depend on the cornerback situation and whether second-year cornerback Jack Jones has to miss any time due to his off-the-field legal situation.