FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Four weeks ago, New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after a breakout 37-carry, 201-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts.
Then things took a turn for Gray, who showed up late to practice on Nov. 21. He was active in the next game, but did not play a single snap as he looked to be in coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse.
In Sunday’s 41-13 win over the Dolphins, Gray received 11 carries, his most since the Colts game.
“It’s not really difficult,” Gray said about sitting on the sideline. “You always have to be prepared. You never know what your role is going to be.
“Last week I had a role on special teams, had to play a lot of special teams. Whenever your number is called, whatever you can do to help the team, you do it to the best of your ability.”
Gray had 17 offensive snaps including penalties, all of which were in the second half. Four of those plays were at the end of the game when backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo came into the game for Tom Brady.
The 17 snaps were a big bump in workload for Gray who had three, two and zero offensive snaps in his previous three games (according to snap counts by ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss).
After a slow first half for the offense, Gray provided a boost to the Patriots at the start of the second half. He caught a pass for seven yards and rushed for five yards on consecutive plays.
“Yeah, I was excited to make a big play for our team and just kind of be a sparkplug for the offense,” Gray said. “It was nice. We came into halftime, Coach [Josh] McDaniels gave a pretty fiery speech. We all came out with a different mindset in the second half. We knew we had to do a lot of things better and we came out and executed.
“When my number was called, I was ready. Those guys rallied around me, great blocking downfield, great checks and we were able to get something going.”
Gray finished with 62 rushing yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry -- more than his 5.4 average against the Colts.
It seems fitting that Gray’s reemergence came against one of his former teams -- he spent 2012 on the Dolphins’ physically unable to perform list. But Gray said there was no added incentive.
“No, I was happy to be [in Miami] in the time I was there,” Gray said. “And I am thankful for the time that they gave me. But this week was a regular game and we were playing a division opponent that gave us some trouble that last couple of games and that’s really all I focused on -- getting a win.”