In examining an under-the-radar strength of every NFL team on ESPN Insider on Monday, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders highlighted the New England Patriots' excellence in accumulating yards after the catch and breaking tackles. In doing so, the work of running back Dion Lewis was spotlighted.
That sparked a thought about another under-the-radar question with the Patriots in 2016: What is a realistic workload for Lewis?
Coming off a torn left ACL sustained in early November, the 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis had been an early-season workhorse last year despite his diminutive stature. In a Week 2 win over the Bills, for example, he played 73 of 86 snaps.
In the first five games of the season, Lewis played 235 of a possible 356 snaps, a 66 percent clip.
Then injuries struck, with Lewis slowed by an abdomen ailment that sidelined him for one game. Two games later, he sustained the season-ending knee injury.
Was that just bad luck? Or a continuation of injury struggles that had derailed Lewis' career in the past?
This year, Lewis' recovery has progressed as hoped with him returning to practice at the end of June minicamp, and his presence on the field changes plenty for the New England offense. But can the team, which didn't draft a running back, once again rely on him to play 66 percent of the snaps and make it through an entire season healthy?
It's an under-the-radar question heading into 2016 training camp that is one of the team's more important ones to answer.