Ezekiel Elliott ready for increased workload after Rhamondre Stevenson injury: ‘The more I’m in there, the better I’ll be’

Ezekiel Elliott ready for increased workload after Rhamondre Stevenson injury: ‘The more I’m in there, the better I’ll be’
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The New England Patriots did not just lose their Week 13 game to the Los Angeles Chargers, they also saw their most productive offensive skill position player go down in the process. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson came up limping after a first-quarter run, and was unable to finish the game due to what was later announced as an ankle injury.

How much time Stevenson will miss remains to be seen after he was listed as a non-participant on Monday’s projected injury report. But in his absence, the team will follow its classic next-man up approach — one that had to be used quite a bit this year.

This means that Ezekiel Elliott better get ready for an increased role. The 28-year-old seems to be just that.

“I think, definitely, the more I’m in there, the better I’ll be,” Elliott told reporters on a video call on Monday. “I think the more touches I get, the better I get with the game going on. If the opportunity presents itself, and if it continues to present itself, I definitely would love to keep playing more.”

Following his release from the Dallas Cowboys during the offseason, Elliott had to wait until August to find a new team. That team was the Patriots, who picked him up as a free agent in mid-August and promptly inserted him as their RB2 behind Stevenson.

He has kept that role ever since, turning it into 136 combined carries and receptions for 583 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

While those statistics are nowhere near the numbers he put up earlier in his career, when he crossed the 1,200-yard mark in six straight years and was voted to three Pro Bowls, Elliott has been a productive player for a team not fielding many of them. Through 12 games, he is ranked second behind only Stevenson in touches and scrimmage yards and now will have an opportunity to add to his output.

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“It’s tough to see guys go down,” Elliott said. “I know it’s part of the sport, but Rhamondre’s been very good for us this year in the pass game and run game. You hate to see one of your brothers go down.”

Following Stevenson’s injury against the Chargers, the Patriots wasted no time making the eighth-year back a focal point in their offense. He ended up playing a season-high 44 snaps in the 6-0 loss, gaining 52 yards on 17 carries as well as 40 more on four receptions.

Elliott is confident that he can continue adequately filling in for Stevenson heading into Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I think we’re two backs that can kind of do the same stuff, so we definitely complement each other. It definitely puts some pressure on a defense — when one guy goes out, you still got another coming in and replace him. It’s been a good experience,” he said.

“It’ll be exciting to go out there and get some more touches and show what I can do.”