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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #38: James Develin

Yeah, I’m partial to fullbacks. They’re the unsung heroes of the gridiron, the stalwart lunchpail guys who lead block for the glamor backs. Sometimes they get a short yardage carry, or display hands soft enough to become reliable outlet receivers. But mainly they’re the grinders and blunt instruments deployed to make a running game work.

Case in point: the 2019 Patriots struggled to run the football in the absence of Gronk and number 46. Develin is a huge component in the New England offense, and without him Sony Michel looked like a very average ballcarrier. It also certainly appeared that Tom Brady missed his steady presence as a blocker or checkdown receiver in the sluggish passing game.

Develin has an interesting story. He’s an Ivy League grad who went to Brown where he was a defensive end and engineering student. He wandered through the Arena Football League and the UFL before catching on with the Bengals in 2010 (though he’d get stuck on their practice squad and never suit up for a game).

Two years later the Patriots signed him, and he’s been a key contributor to their three Super Bowl wins since. Here’s hoping his neck injury heals and he gets back to opening up those running lanes.

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