Patriots' Dion Lewis To Return By Training Camp?

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Feb 22, 2016 12:50 PM EST
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Patriots Rob Gronkowski congratulates Dion Lewis
Patriots Rob Gronkowski congratulates Dion Lewis after he made a touchdown in the second quarter. The New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins in a Thursday night NFL game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Oct. 29, 2015."

The New England Patriots missed out at a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions largely because their running game could not compete with those of playoff counterparts. Earlier in the season when the Patriots were starting Dion Lewis at running back, they seemed to be unstoppable. Lewis would later tear his ACL, effectively ending his season and forcing the Patriots to use several different running backs in the interim.

Lewis had surgery to repair his torn ACL in November, which should put his return to the football field somewhere around training camp, at least according to NFL.com. He is the clear lead back in this offense, so him being a little ahead of schedule in terms of his rehab is likely welcome news for Patriots fans, as Lewis finished 2015 playing in only seven games, starting in six of them.

He recorded 49 rushing attempts for 234 yards, with 4.8 yards per carry and two touchdowns. However, Lewis did most of his damage in the passing game, where he recorded 36 receptions for 388 yards and an average of 10.8 yards per catch, along with two receiving touchdowns. The Patriots will likely bring in some fresh talent at the running back position, according to Patriots.com, as LaGarrette Blount and Steven Jackson are both free agents. Granted, Lewis is returning from injury, but James White has proven to only be a solid passing down back, and the same can be said about Branden Bolden, so there's enough reason to shop around.

The Patriots only have $10 million in cap space currently and will not have a first round pick, so finding a reasonably priced addition to this running attack is very important to this offense. Matt Forte's name has been batted around by several news sources, including CBS Sports, but he could end up costing the Patriots more than they are willing to pay. Forte might, however, take a pay cut for the chance to win a Super Bowl, an opportunity that New England could provide.

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