Training Camp Preview: Running Backs

A closer look at the roster as training camp arrives. Part two of the series we look at running backs.

[Editor's Note: Addai transaction announced after this story was written]

RUNNING BACKS:
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.

Vereen 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.

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