The New England Patriots lost a big part of their 2013 rushing attack today when RB LeGarrette Blount signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The moment that happened, the Patriots were then seemingly left without a true No. 1 option at the position. The good news is, in a passing league, you don’t necessarily have to have a No. 1 running back to carry the load, especially when you have a quarterback the likes of Tom Brady commanding your offense.
That fact could lead to the Patriots once again utilizing a committee approach in 2014. The lead candidate in that timeshare could now be RB Brandon Bolden. Why Bolden? because Stevan Ridley‘s fumble issues could cause him to be passed over for a spot as the lead back in 2014. It is even a possibility that the team could move him closer to the draft since his contract runs out after the season. The Patriots may not be willing to extend a guy with ball security issues who may seek a significant pay raise on the open market.
As for Shane Vereen, he would be a candidate for added snaps, but probably not a lead guy for a couple of reasons. First, he has proven to have durability issues since joining the team, including a broken wrist early last season which caused him to miss significant time. Secondly, he is more of a change-of-pace running back and receiving threat out of the backfield. The strength of his game is not as a north-south runner or workhorse back, therefore, he will most likely stay as the second option in a platoon.
Bolden has the size at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds to carry the load for the Patriots this season, assuming that he can stay healthy. Just to be safe, the Patriots may decide to bring in a free agent RB or draft one at some point this May. Still, I would expect Bolden to get his first real shot to show what he can bring to the Patriots’ running game this season.