Training Camp Roster Watch: Running Backs

Training Camp Roster Watch: Running Backs
July 22, 2014, 10:00 am
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We're breaking down the personnel and pecking order at each position as the Patriots prepare to open camp this week.  
Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James White, Roy Finch, Stephen Houston, Jonas Gray 
One of the most intriguing positional groups coming into training camp, it will be fascinating to see how each of these players distinguishes himself. Just as interesting: How many will be kept. Ridley and Vereen are roster locks, one would suspect, as is White, the rookie fourth-round draft choice out of Wisconsin. After that, it's a bit of a crap shoot. Will the Patriots look to replace the size and power they lost when LeGarrette Blount departed for Pittsburgh via free agency? If so, the next best thing may be Houston, the undrafted rookie out of Indiana who stands 6-feet, 225 pounds. Do they opt for special teams depth? If that's the case then Bolden, who has been a valued kicking game participant in seasons past, would probably get the nod. Do they need a returner? As of now it looks like they do -- Blount finished last season as their primary kickoff return man -- which could mean the undersized but dynamic Finch could receive a spot. The top of the depth chart deserves a look as well. Its two veterans are in contract years and have plenty to prove. Vereen needs to show people he can stay healthy, providing the Patriots with their most versatile offensive weapon for more than a handful of games. If he can't, the soft-mitted White is there as insurance. Certainly Ridley would like to reprise his role as the reliable between-the-tackles runner he was in 2012 when he rushed for 1,263 yards, but he'll be the first to tell you he needs to hold onto the ball first. The road to winning back that job begins this week.