[Editor's Note: Addai transaction
announced after this story was written]
Starter -- Stevan Ridley.
Backups -- Joseph Addai, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Bolden, Eric Kettani, Tony Fiammetta, Spencer Larsen.
The loss in free agency of former
1,000-yard back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who'd scored 24 touchdowns over
the last two seasons, leaves an opening for the top spot in New
England's backfield committee. As a complementary part of the offense,
a number of guys will get their chances.
Ridley was New England's best
runner in limited chances a year ago as a rookie, averaging 5.1 a carry
as the team's only runner with runs longer than 20 yards (five). But he
also fumbled twice late in the year and has been open about having to
solve his ball security issues, which were also a problem during his
career at LSU. If he does that, he has great potential. If not, he
won't play much.
Addai knows a little something about fitting in as a
versatile back on a pass-first offense from his days with Peyton Manning in Indy. If he can stay healthy he could serve a similar role
in New England, but health is a major question at this point.
was a second-round pick a year ago, but saw very little action as a
rookie. He's looked very explosive in the offseason and has the
potential to be quite a playmaker on the ground and through the air in
New England's spread sets. If Vereen reaches his impressive potential,
that will take carries away from veteran Danny Woodhead, who saw his
production drop dramatically in his second season in New England.
Regardless, Woodhead will retain a role as a change-of-pace option and
special teams contributor. Maybe most interesting in the backfield is
the addition of the trio of fullbacks -- Kettani, Fiammetta and Larsen.
Kettani was released from his active Navy duties, while Fiammetta and
Larsen are experienced veteran additions. Versatility will be the key
for the fullbacks looking to win a job, as the role has been a limited
part of the New England offense in recent years.