The Patriots got a bit healthier in the backfield on Wednesday as starting running back Sony Michel was able to hit the field during New England's latest training camp session. This is the first time all camp that Michel has been able to suit up since being placed on the physically unable to perform list following offseason foot surgery. His activation from the PUP list and presence on Wednesday signifies that Michel is finally ready to gear up for the 2020 regular season.
While there was some doubt about whether or not Michel would be ready for Week 1, potentially landing on PUP to start the year, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears noted as recently as last week that Michel "has a shot to get out there." Taking this step is critical for that to come to fruition. From here, Michel will need to re-solidify himself as the starter in New England's backfield and fend off second-year running back Damien Harris, who has been putting together a strong training camp thus far and has been making the most of Michel's absence.
Pat Mayo of the Pat Mayo Experience and the new Mayo Media Network joins Pick Six for the continuation of Fantasy Week. Mayo dishes on season-long and DFS advice, including what to do about the second tier at running back, to get you ready for your 2020 drafts and lineup builds.
This is a pivotal season for Michel as he enters his third year in the league. To this point, the former first-round pick out of Georgia has yet to truly develop into that top-flight back that the Patriots had hoped he'd become. Michel has flashed his potential on occasion and was particularly strong throughout New England's run to their Super Bowl LIII title when he totaled 336 yards and six touchdowns on the ground over three games. The consistency, however, just hasn't been there.
Michel's 2019 campaign saw his efficiency trend downward as his yards per carry average dropped from 4.5 in his rookie season to just 3.7 last year. Michel was also unable to rush for 100-plus yards in any of his 16 games last season, despite seeing 18-22 carries in eight contests. Despite his return to the field, he'll need to improve upon those totals to truly hang on to his starting spot in the backfield. If he continues to be inefficient with his carries, that opens the door even further for Harris, who may already have the edge over Michel as a pass-catcher.