Over the coming weeks leading up to training camp Patriots Today will be debating some of the more interesting individual positional battles that will be taking place in New England. After Brian Lowe and Jackie Brittain make arguments for the players who'll be competing for roles and jobs this summer, the PFW staff will analyze the debate and declare a winner. We kick things off with a look at the battle at backup running back!
LeGarrette Blount vs. Brandon Bolden
The arguments: Lowe makes strong case for Blount, the key to which is the veteran former Bucs "size, experience" and that fact that he was a 1,000-yard runner in Tampa Bay just a couple years ago. Blount knows what it takes to be a workhorse running back in the NFL and that could be what the Patriots are looking for behind Steven Ridley this fall. Given all the uncertainty in the passing game, the New England offense may need to rely a bit more on the ground attack. Ridley had 290 carries last fall, and not too many running backs can put together a string of 300-carry seasons in the NFL. Sure Blount has had his issues in terms of character, dating back to college and in Tampa where he clearly fell very much out of favor with the coaching staff. But Blount has the ability to carry the football 20-plus or even 30 times in a game, as he's proven in his short career. He can also punch the ball into the end zone. He's a true backup running back, and that's what the Patriots need.
Brittain's argument for Bolden attempts to focus on his "production" and "athleticism" as a rookie a year ago as an undrafted rookie. But he only actually rushed for 274 yards and 137 of those came in one game against the Bills. He missed games to injury and league suspension. He only had two games with more than six rushing attempts. He battled injuries in college and was hurt again this spring. There are just too many questions surrounding Bolden to consider him a reliable backup option. And with Shane Vereen and Leon Washington in the mix, Bolden potential athleticism is not a huge need.
The verdict – Blount: The veteran was added to the roster in a draft day trade in which the two teams swapped unwanted running backs with Jeff Demps heading south. Bill Belichick indicated the team had targeted Blount as a player they wanted and that means he likely has a role in mind for the 6-0, 247-pound workhorse. Lowe wins this first positional debate, as barring injury or off-field issues, Blount is indeed the logical choice to help fill out the running back depth chart this fall.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Who has a better chance of making the Patriots roster and backing up Stevan Ridley this fall – LeGarrette Blount or Brandon Bolden?
What do you think of the battle between Blount and Bolden? Let us know with a comment below!