Shane Vereen Works With Patriots First Team, Pushing Stevan Ridley for Lead Role in Backfield

Shane Vereen Works With Patriots First Team, Pushing Stevan Ridley for Lead Role in BackfieldThe departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency opened up a big chunk of carries in the Patriots' backfield, and Shane Vereen appears determined to fight for every touch.

While many expected Stevan Ridley or newly signed Joseph Addai to pick up some of Green-Ellis' carries, it was Vereen who was working with the first team offense this week, according to the Boston Herald.

The Patriots invested a higher draft pick in Vereen, picking him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft only to snag Ridley in the very next round. But Ridley was the bigger contributor in his rookie season after injuries held Vereen back last preseason.

Although Ridley was productive at times in his rookie season, this appears to be a training camp battle. As head coach Bill Belichick has shown in the past, though, the team will likely find a role for both backs in the offense. Each has the talent to contribute this season.

Vereen and Ridley are near locks to make the roster, but the same cannot be said for Addai given his age. What he lacks in youth, however, Addai makes up for with his pass protection and experience, two qualities Belichick values in his backs.

Danny Woodhead will also return to New England this season, but he is primarily a third-down back in the Patriots' offense, and his role is not drastically altered with the departure of Green-Ellis.

Depth is particularly important at the running back position, and the Patriots have a few quality options to turn to in the backfield. But which back will New England lean on most heavily during the 2012 season? That will be an ongoing storyline throughout training camp and into the regular season.

Yardbarker

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