James Walker (ESPN) AFC East training camp battles.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Running back: Stevan Ridley versus Shane Vereen
The reigning AFC champions are venturing into the unknown at running back. After losing dependable starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis to free agency, the Patriots are looking to second-year tailbacks Ridley and Vereen to carry the load. Both will get their share of carries this year. But the one who performs best in training camp and the preseason will be the starter.
Ridley averaged a solid 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie in 2011. He has a good burst between the tackles but needs to fix his fumbling woes. He had two in the regular-season finale against Buffalo and the divisional playoff game against Denver. Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't go back to Ridley the rest of the postseason. Vereen is quick and looks to be more of a home run hitter. Injuries hampered Vereen last season, but the Patriots are pretty high on last year's second-round pick. Danny Woodhead and former Indianapolis Colts tailback Joseph Addai also are in the mix for depth. Woodhead and Addai are expected to contribute more on third-down situations.
Andy Hart is asked if he thinks that Ridley and Vereen could turn into an [Ahmad] Bradshaw and [Brandon] Jacobs duo?
I really like the potential of both Ridley and Vereen. It’s even more intriguing to consider how they could develop together as a tandem. But it’s not really in the thunder-and-lightning Giants mold you referenced. Jacobs is a massive, 6-4, 260-plus pound giant. Ridley, the bigger of New England’s young backs, is five inches shorter and 30 pounds smaller. He’s also a far more elusive, athletic runner than Jacobs. Vereen is clearly the more explosive, change-of-pace players, but Ridley’s own abilities in that area are a bit undersold. Hopefully Ridley will get over his ball security problem and Vereen will develop into the guy the Patriots targeted with a second-round pick. If that’s the case you will see the ground game become a little bit more a part of the offense, at the very least complementing the passing attack more than has been the case the last year or so.
- Andy Hart tackles the weekly Ask PFW mailbag: 4th and short.
- Tom E. Curran makes us guess who took more defensive snaps than any player on the Patriots in 2011. It's someone you probably didn't expect.
- Tom E. Curran reveals all the numbers on how many offensive snaps each Patriot played last season. Any guesses as to who was No. 2?
- Jeff Howe thinks it would be surprising if Ryan Mallett overtook Brian Hoyer for the top backup spot.
- Mike Reiss tells us why Stephen Gostkowski did well with his contract extension from August 2012.
- Mike Rodak analyzes players on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012: LB Jeff Tarpinian.
- Field Yates scouts the Patriots roster: Centers.
- Mike Reiss answers his weekly reader mailbag: Ring or Hall of Fame?
- The CSNNE staff reports Chad Ochocinco is saying he wants to play until he's 40. "If he continues to get the same workload he got last year, wear and tear is not going to be an issue."
- Aaron Goldsmith (pawsoxblog) Rob Gronkowski to participate in Triple-A Home Run Derby events.
- J.M. Lawrence reports Mary Malone Sullivan died at age 92. She was the widow of Patriots founder Billy Sullivan.
- The Vault Keeper (NFLFilms) Tales from the Vault: Patriot Games. Well worth a read, especially on Independence Day.
- Analysts Debate (NFL.com) Which 2012 NFL game should become a national holiday? Three pick the Brady-Manning matchup on Oct. 7th.
- NFL Total Access (NFL.com) Debate: Bounce-back players in 2012. (3.18 min. video)
- Henry Hodgson (NFL.com) Five fascinating NFL supplemental draft picks.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Goodell upholds suspensions for Vilma, Hargrove, Smith, Fujita.
- Peter Schrager (Fox Sports) King Roger leaves Saints in his wake.
- Steve Wyche (NFL.com) Legal action likely coming from players in Saints' bounty case.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Next phase of bounty case will focus on claim Goodell wasn't impartial.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) NFLPA disappointed with "lack of integrity of the investigation".