Dante Scarnecchia: Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott can be ‘two-headed monster’ for Patriots


“You put one in for the other and there’s no drop-off.”

New England Patriots' Ezekiel Elliott along with J.J. Taylor (42) and Ameer Speed (28) walk to practice for NFL football training camp Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis.
Ezekiel Elliott will bolster New England’s running-back group this season. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Count Dante Scarnecchia among the growing number of football personnel and players who believe that Ezekiel Elliott will succeed in his new home in Foxborough.

During his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Gresh and Fauria” show, the former longtime Patriots offensive-line coach believes that Elliott’s skillset as a short-yardage weapon, pass-catching threat and capable blocker should further bolster New England’s offense. 

In particular, Scarnecchia thinks that Elliott and New England’s top running back Rhamondre Stevenson will both benefit from sharing reps in Bill O’Brien’s offense.

“I think both those guys, Rhamondre and Ezekiel Elliott, have proven that they can play in the National Football League,” Scarnecchia said, as transcribed by WEEI.com’s Mike Kadlick. “I know that Rhamondre is a real threat out of the back field and I also know that so is [Elliott]. The more that you can have guys that have the ability to do that, to run with speed … and power and finesse when it’s required, and are able to catch the ball, I think it just gives you a two-headed monster.”  

“You put one in for the other and there’s no drop-off. If you’ve got that ability that’s a pretty good thing. I think we’re all anxious to see in which direction that goes, see what Ezekiel is like at this point in his career, the other guy we know, three years in the league and is on the upswing.”

Even though Stevenson will likely sit atop New England’s depth chart, the Patriots have already thrown steady reps at Elliott during his first two practices with New England.

After only taking part in non-contact drills on Wednesday during New England’s first joint-practice session against the Packers, MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels had Elliott down for 14 snaps during 11-on-11 drills on Thursday in Green Bay. Elliott ran in for two touchdowns during a competitive practice, and also reeled in a catch from Mac Jones.

“Two guys that can really make things hard for the defense,” Scarnecchia said of both Stevenson and Elliott. “And I always believe this, and I believe this with all my heart: good backs make the lineman better. Because they’ll find the holes, especially those backs that have great vision, they’ll find what’s there… you usually do pretty well with guys like that.”

As for the state of New England’s offensive line, Scarnecchia isn’t hitting the panic button at this stage of the preseason. Despite last Thursday’s lackluster showing against the Texans’ pass rush, Scarnecchia believes that it’s tough to gauge the play of a unit that is still missing a number of expected starters. 

“I don’t know how much they’re struggling with their best guys out there,” Scarnecchia said. “We all saw what happened the other night. Look — I’m all for playing those young guys as much as you can and accelerating the growing process with those guys because one or two of those guys may end up playing this year, you never know. … “I would hope that here in the second preseason game and especially this week when they’re practicing against Green Bay and they’re not having to block [Josh] Uche and they’re not having to block [Matt] Judon and those guys and all of a sudden it may get a little bit better.

“Or it may still be a struggle, I don’t know. But I would hope that they, at this time, and certainly by next week, that things would be a lot better and more the way that they would want them to be.”