Patriots camp battle to know: Dion Lewis is in a fight to save his roster spot

The moves made by the New England Patriots during this offseason have all the similarities of a jackhammer constantly and forcibly hitting the surface trying to crack the code that they've already done five times in their franchise's history: build a Super Bowl champion. 

What may have been retooled the most is the backfield, as the team allowed the NFL's leader in rushing TDs from 2016, LeGarrette Blount, to head on down to Philly as the Patriots opened their doors to the likes of Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead

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While both Gillislee and Burkhead are seemingly locks to make the 53-man roster, the backfield could be an area that still has its "Under Construction" sign draped over it as training camp is set to begin in Foxborough. 

Super Bowl LI hero James White also looks to be safe from a Bill Belichick stunner as he inked an extension to remain with the club earlier this offseason. 

So really, the fourth running back spot could come down to Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden or even D.J. Foster. 

All of those backs couldn't be more different from one another as Lewis is arguably the most dynamic player of the entire bunch when healthy, Foster is cut from the same mold as White and Bolden primarily serves as a special teamer. 

With the naked eye, the no-brainer says to drop Foster because you get most of his potential production in James White, send Bolden to the curb since Burkhead has shown the ability to play on special teams, and keep Lewis, who hasn't been involved in a Patriots loss since arriving to town.

That seems like the logical plan, but whoever said all of Belichick's moves made sense at the time he pulled the trigger?

After all, we are talking about a guy who traded Jamie Collins in the middle of the season and then went on to win the Super Bowl. At the time of that deal the entire league was bewildered that The Hoodie would let a talent like that go, but -- as it often does -- it worked out for him. 

That's why Lewis starting the 2017 season sporting another uniform may not be so far-fetched.

SportsLine projects the Patriots to keep Lewis, who could even outscore Burkhead in Fantasy leagues:


RuAttRuYdRuAvgRuTDRecptReYdReAvgReTDFP*
Mike Gillislee1587124.5813937.31136
James White642433.83504609.24113
Dion Lewis1094924.53191457.8182
Rex Burkhead823123.83131128.9162

*Fantasy points

If the Patriots want to feature Burkhead more in the backfield, keeping Bolden on special teams may be the direction they choose.

The fact that the team kept D.J. Foster on their active roster instead of moving him to the practice squad in 2016 also indicates that they were fond of him and were afraid of another club taking him. That has to count for something too, right? 

Not to mention that Lewis clearly has the best trade value of the trio now that he is healthy -- something that hasn't been a guarantee for most of his career.

If Belichick views Lewis as more of luxury than a necessity along with Foster and/or Burkhead showing they can fill somewhat of his role during camp and the preseason, things could get very interesting in that backfield. 

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