Aug 9, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) on the side line during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

New England Patriots Projections: Running Back Carries

A big topic of discussion among New England Patriots fans is the running back position with there being four quality backs who will most likely be on the roster in Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and Brandon Bolden. The two running backs who are being discussed the most are likely No.1 and 2 backs (respectively) Ridley and Vereen.

Expected to be the starter at running back, Ridley ran well in training camp and is still the best back on the roster, but Vereen has certainly made things closer. He was terrific in the preseason game and has done an excellent job in practice. Both running backs are explosive and can beat defenses off the edge, with Vereen looking like one of the top receiving backs in the NFL right now. Ridley has improved in that department, but he’s certainly better off as a pure runner and has the edge on Vereen in that aspect.

Last season, the New England Patriots ran the ball 377 times with four running backs. One question I have is, how many carries will be split among the four major backs on the roster? If there are about 375 carries to go around, how are things split?

For starters, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are going to get the majority of the carries (70-80% combined at least). Last season, the top two running backs in carries (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Ridley) combined for about 71% of the team’s total carries, with the Law Firm leading with 180 carries.

I expect Ridley to have more carries than 88 (his total last season) but also less than the total number of carries that BJGE had. Vereen should have around 100 carries as well, but he will primarily be the team’s third-down back.

I’d like to think that Ridley will receive around 165 carries and Vereen about 125 for a total of 260. With 85 carries left, Danny Woodhead and Bolden will split those up accordingly. Woodhead will be utilized less next season, but he should still get around 55 carries, leaving Bolden with 30.

These are all rough estimates at this point and will even change as the preseason continues. What do you readers think? How will the carries split up? By those estimations the percentages will look like this.

1. Ridley 44%

2. Vereen 33.3%

3. Woodhead 14.7%

4. Bolden 8%

I realize that the Patriots could run it more next year, but I think it’s safe to see a status quo in the number of carries. The main thing to look at isn’t quantity in terms of carries but the actual percentage breakdown.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

Tags: BenJarvus Green-Ellis Brandon Bolden Danny Woodhead New England Patriots Shane Vereen Stevan Ridley

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