Third-down running back
Stevan Ridley (290 carries, 1,290 rushing yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns) is most definitely the team’s No. 1 running back. But it’s no secret the Patriots operate with multiple roles available within the team’s offense. After Danny Woodhead left for San Diego, the team is forced to address who will play as its third down running back and consequently its no-huddle running back as well.
Last season, Shane Vereen (400 yards from scrimmage, 4 touchdowns) was competing for Woodhead’s spot in training camp. He took the majority of the snaps with the first team, but he was beset with injuries. Now, he’s healthy and resuming his quest to make an impact on the team, but not without competition.
The Patriots signed veteran running back Leon Washington in the offseason. Not only is Washington a competent third-down option, but he has the added cachet of having done it before, mostly early on in his career with the New York Jets.
If Vereen can stay healthy, the Patriots certainly have their man. But Washington can easily overtake the younger Vereen if his health becomes a factor again.