Looking closer at New England Patriots rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr., it’s tough not to wonder how he’s going to factor into the mix by the time training camp is over.
While he’s yet to hit the field with the team, the more you see of this kid on film, the more excited you sort of get when you take into consideration that the Patriots have yet another extremely talented player in their backfield.
One thing that stands out is the fact Strong’s ability in the open field is deadly. He accelerates quickly and because he’s so strong, he doesn’t go down on first contact. So if he’s into the second level and it requires a defensive back to take him down, that’s an unbelievable edge because the odds of that happening tend to go in his favor.
You can’t arm-tackle him. And if he gets out into space, you can’t catch him, either.
Bill Belichick has been favoring larger, more physical backs in recent years, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as two players that have completely changed the look and feel of their backfield. Adding Strong Jr. adds both that element and his speed, which given his pass-catching ability, changes things even further.
That sets up a potentially interesting situation for veteran James White, who is still working his way back from a devastating hip injury he suffered early last season.
At last check, White still hadn’t been cleared by doctors, although it sounded like the hope would be that he might be ready to go by the start of training camp.
Either way, the Patriots seem to have a player who may be able to grow into that role and what he brings to the table is definitely impressive.
He runs hard but he’s patient, waiting for blockers to open things up and his acceleration at that point is extremely impressive. He’s also fairly strong. Watching the film, unless players are able to get their arms wrapped around him, he’s incredibly difficult to bring down.
He’s also tough, and he’s certainly seasoned enough to deal with the elements here in New England. Anyone worried about Strong playing in the cold weather needs to only remember that he played for South Dakota State, where the climate certainly isn’t pleasant.
One contest they played last season came in a 4-degree game with 10 mph winds in a 24-21 win over rival North Dakota. Strong carried the football 12 times for 73-yards as he and fellow back Isaiah Davis carried the load while South Dakota State put up 145 yards rushing, with Strong averaging 6 yards-per-carry in the victory.
Holding an advantage like that certainly gave them an edge and like New England, the Jackrabbits had success at home. They compiled a 30-5 record in their last five seasons at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, which is a new venue that was completed in 2016.
Strong said after he was drafted that he felt he would be a great compliment to what he felt was an already talented group of players.
“I’ve seen Damien Harris run the ball and I like the downhill running about the guys,” said Strong. “They’re going to run the ball, you might know it’s coming but you can’t stop it, so, I’m just ready to get to work with them guys I feel like I compliment them very well.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s news and notes column.)
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason
Tags: 2022 Patriots Draft New England Patriots Pierre Strong Jr.