FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Playing without their top power running back LeGarrette Blount for the first time since placing him on season-ending injured reserve Thursday, the New England Patriots turned in part to rookie Joey Iosefa, who delivered his best Blount-type impersonation.
Late in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, the 6-foot-0, 245-pound Iosefa barreled over cornerback Coty Sensabaugh on a 15-yard run over right tackle that was an instant highlight.
"He definitely [made] a good impression. We don't thump on the running backs [in practice], so I didn't know that he had a truck-stick ability like he does," Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch said. "He definitely showed everybody out there."
"The guy is going to run hard, as you can see," echoed fellow running back James White.
Added Patriots safety Duron Harmon, "He's a load, man. He runs through people and he's really, really strong."
Iosefa (pronounced YO-sef-ah) was promoted from the team's practice squad Saturday to add a third layer of depth at running back alongside Brandon Bolden (29 snaps vs. Tennessee) and White (23 snaps). He was charted on the field for 19 offensive snaps (17 as a running back, two as a fullback) and he finished with a team-high 51 yards on 14 carries in his debut.
The play everyone was talking about, of course, was his bulldozing run over Sensabaugh.
"I was just trying to make a play," he said. "When I have the ball in my hand, I try to make the best out of it."
Iosefa did plenty of that at Hawaii, where he started in 29 of 32 games over his college career and totaled 512 rushes for 2,218 yards and 21 touchdowns, while adding 60 receptions for 438 yards and three touchdowns.
He was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL draft (231st overall), and he worked at both running back and fullback, as well as on special teams, until he was waived Aug. 30. Iosefa wasn't with a team until the Patriots signed him to their practice squad Oct. 21.
"He's a grinder, a hard-working kid," coach Bill Belichick said. "He's gotten in a lot better shape since he's been here, dropped a little weight, worked hard. Obviously, he learned a new system, wasn't here in training camp, and put in a lot of extra time and got a lot of snaps on the practice field and kind of earned his way to get a chance out there today based on hard work and consistent play in practice in the opportunities that he's had for us. It's a real credit to him.
"Obviously unfortunately he got an opportunity because of some of the injuries we've had, but he can't control that. All he did was work hard and I thought he gave a solid account of himself today. It wasn't perfect. He did what we asked him to do. He made some tough yards."