- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New England Patriots signed veteran running back Joseph Addai this weekend. The move should add a veteran presence to a young group of tailbacks that include second-year players Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
Here are some additional thoughts on the move:
I'm not big on this signing. Addai averaged 3.7 yards per carry last season. Yards per carry is important in New England, because the Patriots will pass a lot this season and there won't be many carries to go around. Addai hasn't been the same since leg injuries hurt his production two years ago. I thought of the veteran tryouts from last week, former Green Bay Packers tailback Ryan Grant was the best option. Perhaps money played a factor.
The Patriots need to be mindful not to stunt the growth of Vereen and Ridley. One of these two should be the starter this season, and the other second-year player should be the first ball carrier off the bench. There is a lot of potential in this young pair. Addai, as ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss mentioned, most likely will be fighting for a roster spot as the fourth tailback.
Speaking of roster spots, the numbers game is getting tight in New England as the running backs get more crowded. Last week we wrote about New England potentially keeping as many as seven receivers. It now appears the Patriots could keep four or five running backs on the roster. If up to a dozen receivers and tailbacks make the 53-man roster, something has to give at another position. Where will New England trim the surplus? Will they carry less linebackers or defensive linemen next season, for example?