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Friday, April 20, 2012
Additional thoughts on RBs

By Mike Reiss

A few additional thoughts on the Patriots hosting free-agent running backs Tim Hightower and Ryan Grant for workouts/visits at Gillette Stadium (as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter) as well as Joseph Addai (as reported by Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe):

The snaps among pure running backs broke down this way last season:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 34.4 percent
Danny Woodhead -- 33.0 percent
Stevan Ridley -- 14.0 percent
Kevin Faulk -- 6.5 percent
Shane Vereen -- 1.9 percent

With Green-Ellis now in Cincinnati and Faulk not under contract, there is a 40 percent void to fill in 2012. After the Patriots made significant draft investments in Vereen (second round) and Ridley (third round) last year, the team would naturally like to see them seize those snaps.

But Bill Belichick isn't going to leave his team vulnerable in the event of injury, and that's likely the purpose of bringing in Hightower, Grant and Addai. Having a depth option ready in the event of emergency never hurts, nor does adding another layer of competition (assuming it doesn't come in the draft at some point).

Fullbacks Spencer Larsen and Tony Fiammetta have been signed this offseason, but they are more likely to help from a blocking perspective. If they do carry the football, it would likely be in a specialized role.