Pats' free-agent forecast: Running back

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Pats' free-agent forecast: Running back

This is the sixth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Patriots heading into free agency. Today's position: Running backs. Who's on the roster? Eric Kettani, Lousaka Polite, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead. Patriots need level? 4 Position overview? The Patriots lead back the past two seasons, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, is a free agent. He wasn't outstanding in 2011 (often went down on first contact), but he's very sure-handed and dependable. Stevan Ridley's rookie season was promising. He's got more speed through the hole than Green-Ellis and is more elusive at the second level. Fumbling in consecutive games down the stretch was troubling, but that's something coaching and hard work can eliminate. Lousaka Polite and Eric Kettani are fullback types. Shane Vereen had an injury-plagued rookie year. Danny Woodhead is valuable and - when he's on - dangerous. Who's out there? Michael Bush, Raiders. A big, 6-2, 243-pounder whowill be 28 this summer. Has been the backup to Darren McFadden. A decent receiver who has one fumble in his last 414 carries. Mike Tolbert, Chargers. An absolute load at 5-9, 243, he can be elusive and - obviously - a pounder between the tackles. With teams going to more nickel and dime defenses, he's an able pass-catcher (54 catches last year) who can run over DBs if teams are preoccupied with trying to stop a passing attack. Cedric Benson, Bengals. Has fumbled 12 times in the past two seasons. He's on the downside and may be an option for depth but probably not much more even though he's been over 1,000 yards each of the past three seasons. Ryan Grant, Packers. Turns 30 this year and has lost a step but once was an explosive runner (over 1,200 yards in 2008 and 2009). BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots. He's done quite a nice job for the Patriots but he can't expect to get a cash windfall here as a free agent. Peyton Hillis, Browns. He's only 26, but after an outstanding 2010 he got goofy and problematic in Cleveland in 2011. If he sits on the shelf a while, the Patriots may have a look. Other names of note? Kevin Faulk, Ronnie Brown, Mewelde Moore, Tim Hightower. Free agent forecast? If Green-Ellis signs elsewhere, look for the Patriots to hire a veteran a la Fred Taylor as security in case Ridley and Vereen prove unreliable.

Patriots-Rams inactives: Slater, Coleman, Richards out

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Patriots-Rams inactives: Slater, Coleman, Richards out

FOXBORO -- The inactive lists for today's Patriots-Rams game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
S Jordan Richards
WR Matthew Slater
DL Woodrow Hamilton
RB D.J. Foster
T LaAdrian Waddle
DL Darius Kilgo
CB Justin Coleman

PATRIOTS-RAMS PREGAME

LOS ANGELES RAMS
WR Tavon Austin
DE Robert Quinn
QB Sean Mannion
TE Temarrick Hemingway
OL Rodger Saffold
DB Steve Williams
OL Pace Murphy

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.