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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Looking closer at running backs

By Mike Reiss

This morning's "Bubble Watch" entry on Brandon Bolden sparked a thought on the Patriots' running back corps, and how things might unfold in 2013. How might the snaps be split among the backs?

Last year's breakdown looked this way:

Stevan Ridley -- 44.8 percent
Danny Woodhead -- 34.1 percent
Shane Vereen -- 12.7 percent
Brandon Bolden -- 7.5 percent

Woodhead has departed for San Diego, with veteran Leon Washington and former Buccaneer LeGarrette Blount now in the mix alongside Ridley, Vereen, Bolden and rookie free-agent George Winn.

The 2013 snapshot can be broken into two categories from this view, and it's based on style of play:

Bigger backs: Ridley/Bolden/Blount/Winn
Smaller backs: Vereen/Washington

Because the Patriots have traditionally used their "smaller/third-down back" on early downs at times, it's almost a 50-50 split between the two in terms of overall snaps played.

Ridley and Vereen are the top candidates to assume the majority of playing time, assuming they perform well in training camp, with Bolden, Blount and Washington filling in (Winn is a longshot to make the roster).

On the surface, the Patriots look deeper at the running back position this year. It wouldn't be a surprise if five running backs are on the roster.