With some down time before training camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the running backs.
LOCKS: Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, James Develin
BUBBLE: Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden
LONG SHOTS: Ralph Webb
BREAKDOWN: The running back by committee approach could very well be back in effect in Foxborough this season given the team's deep stable of versatile backs.
The rookie Michel could emerge as the lead back if his development in the summer warrants it. Burkhead also has the ability to perform as both a runner and receiver, but durability issues have been a problem. White is the main weapon in the passing game.
If Michel assumes a prominent role it might make it difficult to keep both Hill and Gillislee. Hill has been a strong goal-line and short-yardage runner while Gillislee struggled at times in that role last season. Both could be options as true ball carriers should Michel and Burkhead struggle, which gives Bill Belichick some options.
Bolden is strictly a special teams player at this point while Webb, an undrafted rookie out of Vanderbilt, would need to have a tremendous summer to earn a spot on the roster. The practice squad would be a possibility however.