The starting running back for the New England Patriots in 2013 will be Stevan Ridley. He battled for the starting spot during the 2012 training camp following the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but was given the spot due to injury. After given the opportunity, Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards cementing his spot in the Patriots starting lineup. But heading into this coming season, there will be another battle, this time for the backup spot.
Heading into the 2012 season, Ridley and Shane Vereen were fighting for the starting running back spot in the Patriots offense. But injuries slowed down Vereen and Ridley took advantage winning the positional battle. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead also became an integral part of the Patriots offense leaving Vereen, the 2011 second round draft pick, wondering where he would fit in upon his return.
When all three of the running backs were healthy, the Patriots seemed to give both Vereen and Woodhead an equal opportunity to prove themselves. One week Vereen would get more touches and the next week Woodhead would get an opportunity. When the 2012 season ended it looked as though the two were about equal in the eyes of the coaches.
Because of how it seems that Vereen and Woodhead are equal that could be a key battle heading into next year’s training camp. Likely, the Patriots won’t have the same amount of injuries to key receivers like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman meaning they probably won’t run the ball as much. That will make the second running back important and the third running back irrelevant.
There are always key battles for each NFL team heading into training camp. For the 2013 Patriots camp, it looks as though one is already heating up. The running back who sits behind Ridley will be a key contributor to the Patriots offense, while the third back will have to search for ways to remain relevant. The battle between Vereen and Woodhead probably won’t be decided until the first week of next season and will be a fun one for fans to watch.