Green-Ellis has been the front man for the past two seasons, leading the team in rushing and touchdowns in 2010 and 2011. Now he's gone to Cincinnati after signing with the Bengals as a free agent. That leaves last year's rookie tandem of
Joining that trio is veteran
So, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case asks: Which of these backs will eventually emerge as the team's leading rusher?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Ridley is the heir to Green-Ellis' job as New England's top back. As a rookie a year ago he showed plenty of spark and power. He showed the ability to maximize runs and make plays.
Unfortunately, he also showed a slight tendency to lose the ball. But that's something that many backs have dealt with and overcome in the NFL. Look no further than New England icon
Ridley's average of 5.1 yards a carry last year in limited action was the best on the team, better than that of third-down back Danny Woodhead. He was the only New England back with a run longer than 20 yards, of which he had five. He also had 11 of the team's 29 runs longer than 10 yards, reaching that number on just 87 total carries.
Ridley is clearly the best mix of potential and production on the depth chart. Addai was good in the best offense in the NFL when he was healthy half a decade ago. Shane Vereen needs to prove he has the NFL potential to live up to his second-round draft spot after doing nothing as a rookie. Woodhead is coming off a season in which his production was cut nearly in half and clearly doesn't have the frame to be a top back.
The bottom line is that the Patriots will likely still have a committee backfield in which the team's leading rusher may only pick up 600-800 yards. But in the end, the talented Ridley is the best guy to get the bulk of the carries.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
For starters, I don't see anyone emerging as a true lead back on this Patriots offense. As long as
He had some productive seasons in Indianapolis, including a pair of 1,000-yard campaigns operating in a pass-happy offense similar to the Patriots. He's used to be ready to maximize limited opportunities, which almost certainly will be the case in New England. And he also has good hands and a reputation as an excellent blocker, traits that should allow him to stay on the field more often and potentially lead to more carries down the road.
The one problem with Addai has been injuries, and truth be told health could actually eliminate him from the equation altogether. If he's not able to get and stay on the field – he didn't take part in some OTA work earlier in the spring – there's a chance he won't even make the club.
But if he is healthy he's the most talented back currently on the roster. He has the most experience and is probably the most versatile as well. Assuming he acclimates quickly to the system, Addai will eventually emerge as the top back and lead the Patriots in rushing, albeit with a modest total.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote for this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.
Click here to vote on a mobile device.