Sports

Patriots coach Ivan Fears excited for running back competition

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FOXBOROUGH — If it takes a little time for the Patriots’ passing game to start clicking — perfectly understandable given the complexity of New England’s offense and the cadre of new receivers — Ivan Fears’s running backs group will be ready to carry an increased load.

Now in his 17th season with the Patriots, including 14 in his current tenure, Fears has a competitive, largely young group of backs in his charge this season: third-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, second-year man Brandon Bolden, eighth-year return specialist Leon Washington, and newcomer LeGarrette Blount. Undrafted rookie George Winn is also in the mix.

So far, Fears is liking what he’s seeing.

The competition has been “fantastic. Fantastic. It really has,” he said. “The guys are all looking good.”

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