The New England Patriots should have plenty of depth at running back during the 2014 NFL season, but they don’t have a legitimate No. 1 back to take the majority of the carries.
Following the offseason departure of LeGarrette Blount, several players could receive 50 or more carries.
The guy at the top of the depth chart is Stevan Ridley, who led the team with 773 rushing yards on 178 carries last season. He also tied for the team lead with seven rushing touchdowns, but his three fumbles lost were as many as all of the other players on the roster combined. If his fumbling issues continue, head coach Bill Belichick quickly will take away his carries.
Brandon Bolden should get plenty of goal-line touches. At 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, Bolden isn’t afraid to run at defensive linemen, and his powerful running style helps him convert short-yardage opportunities.
Shane Vereen emerged as a valuable receiver in Tom Brady’s passing attack last season (47 receptions for 427 yards), but he’s also a reliable rusher. He ran for 208 yards on 44 carries, and his workload should increase in 2014 after missing half of the 2013 campaign with injuries.
Rookie running back James White also will have a chance to impress and earn a share of the workload. Despite his lack of size, White isn’t easy to tackle, and his quickness between the tackles allows him to pick up extra yardage. When the guys ahead of him on the depth chart inevitably suffer an injury or need a break, White will provide a nice change of pace to the running game.