(This is another entry into Musket fire’s ‘positional breakdown’ feature)
Under Contract for 2013:
Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Jeff Demps, James Develin
Entering the 2012 season, the Pats had not had an effective running game since 2004. In their two Super Bowl losses, a running game may have made the difference and the Pats could have come out with a victory. Steven Ridley helped change that this year for the Pats. This was his 2nd year in the NFL and – had a breakout season. He helped the Pats finish 7th in the NFL in rushing yards and 1st in rushing TDs. Ridley ran for 1,263 yards on 290 carries for 12 touchdowns… that is not bad for your second season in the NFL. Ridley has good speed, very good vision and he’s is a very tough runner that is not afraid of contact. The one knock against him is he has a tendency to fumble the ball, and if he takes care of that issue he has the potential to be great. I see Ridley having another very productive year next season.
Last year was also Vereen’s second season in the NFL, and he didn’t play very much until the divisional round playoff game againstHouston. Vereen’s career had been hampered by injuries up until this time, but when Danny Woodhead went out in the first quarter of the Houston game, Vereen stepped up. Vereen was actually a second round draft pick, so he does have a lot of talent. He showed his big play ability in that game as he scored 3 touchdowns. He has great speed, and very good elusiveness. He can also split out wide and make some plays in the passing game, as we saw with his 33 yard touchdown catch from Tom Brady. Vereen should see a lot more playing time in 2013, as he finally got on the field and showed the Pats his big play talent.
Bolden had an interesting year. In weeks four, five and six he amassed 228 rushing yards on 36 carries; he played a great three weeks and seemed to be headed for a great season. However he was suspended after the Pats week six loss to the Seahawks and he never saw much action after that. The Pats have a high standard for their players and when one of them is suspended for illegal substance use, he will be punished. In 2013, he will hopefully be out of the ‘doghouse’ and on the field because he is a reliable ball carrier and a very hard working player.
Demps was injured during the preseason and was placed on season ending IR. Demps is a speedster; he participated in the Olympic Games this past summer, and will hopefully be a dynamic player in the Pats backfield and on their special teams. He will be with the team in 2013, healthy and ready to make an impact.
Develin is a fullback, and the Pats usually do not carry fullbacks on their active roster because of their pass happy attack. I see the Pats either releasing Develin before the season begins or placing him on the practice squad.
This group looks to be another strength of the Patriots roster, led by Steven Ridley and explosive back Shane Vereen. Danny Woodhead is a free agent and I would think the Pats would try and re-sign him as he is a great change of pace third down back. He really has a knack for making big clutch plays and is one of the best in terms of pass blocking. Add Olympian Jeff Demps to the mix and the Pats have a plethora of weapons for Brady and the Pats offense to work with.