Rodney Harrison puts bruising RB atop Patriots' needs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Earlier on Tuesday, one of the more relevant storylines of the New England Patriots' offseason was explored: With the running game, is improvement more about the offensive line or running backs?

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who pulls no punches in his role as a football analyst on NBC, shared his viewpoint during a Tuesday appearance on sports radio WEEI's "OM&F" program.

"I know [Bill] Belichick doesn't believe in balance, but I still believe they need a young bruiser, like a young version of Steven Jackson, a guy that can come in there around 220 pounds that can bang through the hole and get them some really tough yards," Harrison said on the program.

While a bruising running back is at the top of the list, Harrison didn't stop there.

"I also think they need a wide receiver that can stretch the field; that would help greatly," he said on the program. "I love these short, intermediate passes, the quick passing game, but there is nothing like having that home-run hitter, somebody that can stretch the life of that defense and scare those safeties. You saw those guys, with Denver, they weren't afraid of the Patriots going deep. Rob [Gronkowski] made some big plays down the field and he's just incredible, and while they obviously need to get healthy on the offensive line, it's that wide receiver and running back."

Then Harrison, perhaps thinking back to his own playing days, added one more area to the list.

"I love Patrick Chung and I thought he had a great year, but I want somebody back there who is just a head-hunter," he said. "When you saw Denver's safeties hit, you cringed at home -- 'Oh my God, I hope [Danny] Amendola and [Julian] Edelman get up from those hits.' Those are the type of hits that wide receivers see on tape and are fearful about coming across the middle. I still think they need someone like that."