With James White sidelined indefinitely, the Patriots are eyeing some free agent running backs. The team worked out Ito Smith, Ryquell Armstead, Dontrell Hilliard, and Artavis Pierce today, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).
Smith has the most experience among the four, seeing time in 35 games in three seasons with the Falcons. This included a 2020 campaign where he finished with 343 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. The 26-year-old caught on with the Vikings this offseason but was let go before the regular season.
Armstead got into 16 games as a rookie with the Jaguars in 2019, finishing with 252 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. He sat out the 2020 season while dealing with issues from COVID-19, and after getting claimed by the Giants in May, he was waived by his new team in June. Pierce, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, saw time in five games with the Bears last season, rushing for 34 yards and one touchdown on six carries. Hilliard, 26, saw time in 30 games for the Browns in two-plus seasons with the organization.
White suffered a hip injury during Sunday’s loss to the Saints, and the veteran will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. The team is already rostering four other RBs in Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, and special teamer Brandon Bolden.
The Patriots didn’t only audition running backs today. The team also took a look at defensive backs D.J. Daniel and Stephen Denmark and wideout Anthony Johnson.