Joseph Addai’s Release From Patriots Likely Paves Way for Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen as Primary Backs

Joseph Addai's Release From Patriots Likely Paves Way for Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen as Primary BacksThe New England Patriots will open training camp on Thursday down at Gillette stadium, and one key offseason addition will not be in attendance as Bill Belichick's staff opens things up.

Joseph Addai, who spent six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before signing with the Patriots in May, was released by the team on Wednesday. The release is a sign that Addai may have failed his mandatory team physical, meaning he may have come into camp out of shape, as Field Yates of ESPN Boston reported.

Addai was expected to add some veteran leadership to a young Patriots backfield, but the 29-year-old wasn't around long enough to establish a presence with New England.

In six seasons with the Colts, Addai rushed for 4,453 yard and 39 touchdowns but posted his best numbers in his first two seasons in the NFL — the only times he eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau in his career. But his durability always seemed to come into question, as Addai has missed 18 games in his career and 12 in the past two seasons.

Addai fell into a lesser role in Indy over the past few seasons, though. He hasn't been the feature back in an offense in nearly three seasons — when he had 828 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009. Addai also had his starting spot usurped in Indianapolis last season, after suffering another setback injury.

With Addai's early exit, the weight of the backfield now falls to the shoulders of second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Ridley showed flashes of stardom at times, gaining 441 yards in 87 carries with 5.1 average yards per rush, and is the most likely to benefit from Addai's absence. Vereen, meanwhile, was limited to just five games last season due to a lingering hamstring injury but shined toward the end of the season.

While Ridley looks in line to take the starter's role, Danny Woodhead will still be a contributing factor for the Pats out of the backfield. Woodhead managed 351 yards on 77 carries but served primarily as the back in shotgun sets, hauling in 18 receptions and constantly finding seams in the defense. He figures to find a considerable amount of playing time in a similar role this season.

As for Addai's future, the Eagles expressed interest in the back before he signed with the Patriots earlier in the offseason. As teams look to fill out their rosters and suffer unfortunate losses along the way, Addai will undoubtedly be called on for at the very least a tryout.

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