When Tom Brady is your quarterback, you'll obviously dial up a whole bunch of passing plays. But while New England may feature a pass-heavy offense, it's still important that the Pats establish the run this season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the Patriots' main back last season and was the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher. He finished the year with 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns on 229 carries, earning him the respect of his teammates and fans.
But The Law Firm wasn't the only Pats running back to become a fan favorite because of his production. Danny Woodhead, listed at only 5-foot-8, threw his body around with reckless abandon en route to 547 yards on 97 carries, while also becoming a major asset in the team's passing attack.
Woodhead was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2008 before being waived and picked up by the Pats last September.
This season, the Patriots have even more weapons in their backfield after drafting Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley in the second and third round, respectively, of this year's draft.
Vereen, drafted 56th overall out of California, was inactive for the team's Week 1 matchup against the Dolphins. But his ceiling is extremely high, and he could be in line to see a decent work load as he continues to get more acclimated to the offense after battling injuries throughout most of training camp and the preseason.
Ridley, meanwhile, already showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason, most notably during his three-touchdown performance against Jacksonville. Ridley played college ball at LSU and was drafted 73rd overall in April. He didn't record a carry in Week 1 despite being active, but he could see an increased work load as the team moves forward.
After his impressive 2010 campaign, it would be easy to expect to see Green-Ellis get a bulk of the work at running back. But Bill Belichick likes to spread the ball around and keep fresh players in the game, which means there's no telling who could break a big run at any given moment.
Woodhead received 14 carries in Week 1, on which he recorded 69 rushing yards. Green-Ellis carried the ball seven times for 34 yards. They might be the more established pros at this point, but the Patriots obviously have high hopes for both Vereen and Ridley and will likely use them in a big role at some point. After all, they did spend two early draft selections on the duo.
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