NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
No position competition on the 2012 New England Patriots’ roster is more wide open than the running back position. The Patriots lost BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, but return a very talented quartet of runners who will challenge for playing time.
How will the depth chart shake out and who is in line for the most carries?
Continue reading as we preview the Patriots Running Backs going into training camp.
Current Roster (5): Joseph Addai, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Bolden
What To Watch For: Who will emerge as the #1 running back as camp progresses? Will one of the second year players breakout and justify their high draft position? What can Shane Vereen do will a full training camp? Does Joseph Addai have anything left? Does Brandon Bolden has a shot at making the roster? How will Josh McDaniels calling the plays change the running attack? Will he intergrate more screen passes and misdirection plays?
Who Makes the Final 53: The Patriots have kept as many as five running backs in the past. With one of those spots likely reserved for a fullback this year (Fiammeta or Larsen) I see four running backs making the roster. Addai, Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead will all make the final roster.
Bubble Watch: Brandon Bolden – Expect to see Bolden on the practice squad. The Patriots targeted him aggressively after the draft. Bolden has a lot of talent, but will take time to develop.
Barring any injuries it’s safe to assume that all four running backs are securely on the roster. The Patriots have four talented and different running backs who seem to complement each other perfectly. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will be on the roster, unless something catastrophic happens.
While the Patriots had an adequate running attack last year, they lacked the big play ability and it put more pressure on Tom Brady to be perfect. Ridley and Vereen could add another dimension to the Patriots offense, one they lacked last season. It will be very interesting to watch Ridley and Vereen take reps early in camp to see just how much they have improved since their rookie year. Vereen especially has the “big play” ability that no other running back on the roster has.
Joseph Addai will be on the roster if he can stay healthy. When healthy Addai will provide the Patriots with a reliable back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect. Addai will take over a lot of the responsibilities Kevin Faulk had in past years. If Addai gets injured or is just finished, it would open the door for Brandon Bolden to make the final 53 man roster.
Danny Woodhead is a speciality back who will be used in no huddle and third down situations. The Patriots love to run draws with Woodhead and with Josh McDaniels back calling plays, look for a lot more screen passes than last year.
While it’s fairly certain who will be on the roster. How the carries will be distributed is the big question and perhaps the biggest position battle to watch in training camp.
More Training Camp Previews: Quarterback