FOXBORO — In May, before an organized team activities practice, Ivan Fears said everything will clear up by the regular season on how the Patriots will deploy their deep and talented stable of running backs.
“You’ll see it,” said the assistant coach who has been in charge of Patriots running backs since 2002.
At this point, though, “it” is still hard to see. But, for coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a little element of surprise isn’t a bad thing.
According to former Pats running back Kevin Faulk, who earned a spot in the team Hall of Fame mainly for his prowess on third down, the current crop boasts a versatile skill set.
“I think that every back that they have right now, they believe they can do everything,” he said.
That, Faulk contends, benefits McDaniels.
“He doesn’t have to worry about the play he’s calling,” Faulk said. “He doesn’t have to worry about the guy that’s in the game. Maybe (a back) can’t line up outside to catch a pass. Maybe (a back) can’t motion into the backfield. Maybe (a back) can’t do some of those things. But if you’ve got a guy who can do multiple things and you’re confident that he can do multiple things, there is no hold on your play calling.”
Ultimately, that might be what sets this group apart from previous corps. Last season’s rotation, for the most part, settled on LeGarrette Blount — now with the Philadelphia Eagles — as the between-the-tackles thumper and James White for third downs. Maybe that structure holds again in another form this year, but it’s possible that Belichick simply keeps his options open.
According to Faulk, that’s how Belichick wants it.
“Now, it’s who’s hot right now?” Faulk said. “What’s the guy that’s getting it done for you right now? That’s who (Belichick) is going to go with.”
The coaching staff’s choice in Thursday night’s preseason opener may lend insight to where the Pats go down the line. In…