RBs Won't Make or Break Pats


RBs Won't Make or Break Pats

Since the start Training Camp, theres been a lot of conversation about what the Patriots will do at running back.

At this point, as Tom E. Curran notes, it looks like Stevan Ridleys job to lose, but regardless of who starts whether its Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead or Marion Butts the Pats RB picture is cloudier than its been in years.

For all that Benjarvus Green-Ellis wasnt, he was the starting running back. For two years. Now, not only has BJGE fled to Cincinnati, but the Pats dont have anyone to replace him. Not in the general sense, but specifically. Green-Ellis was a head-down, no-frills running back. He was Antowain Smith. And that kind of player no longer exists on the Pats roster (unless they go with Butts). In a way, thats slightly concerning, but more than anything, its exciting.

With more dynamic runners at their disposal and a dynamic offensive mind pulling the strings, theres a chance that the Pats a have real dynamic backfield. (Did I say dynamic?) It could add a very powerful dimension to an offense that has already ranked first and third in the NFL over the last two years. And thats the best part:

Regardless of what happens with this running game, the Pats offense is going to be all right.

Even in the worst case scenario: Let's say, Ridley can't hold onto the ball, Vereen doesn't pan out, Woodhead gets hurt . . . and in a bind, the Pats have to sign Sammie Morris and Larry Johnson to fill out the backfield. The Patriots offense is still a force to be reckoned with. Give me McDaniel, Brady, Welker, Lloyd, Gronk and Hernandez, plus any halway decent NFL RB and the Pats are still one of the Super Bowl favorites.

To that, you can say: Well, what happens when it's snowy and cold and the Pats need a guy to grind the ball on the ground?

To that, I'll say: Are you kidding? If anything, the Pats throw MORE when it's cold and snowy. This is an all conditions offense. One that's not so dependent on a running game.

This is comforting, since we're still not sure if the Patriots have one.

But I've got a good feeling that they do.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Unconventional NFL draft grades

Unconventional NFL draft grades

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Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took four players in this year's draft. Four. That's the smallest draft class in team history

Instead, as Bill Belichick highlighted on Friday night, they spent multiple picks in this year's draft to pick up proven commodities. 

* Their first and third-rounders were sent to New Orleans in exchange for receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth. 

* Their second-rounder ended up in Carolina, bringing defensive end Kony Ealy and a third to New England. 

* They lost a fourth-rounder to Deflategate and sent another away in order to pry tight end Dwayne Allen and a sixth-rounder from the Colts. 

* They sent a fifth-rounder to Buffalo as compensation for signing restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee. 

* Before last season the Patriots sent a fifth to Cleveland for linebacker Barkevious Mingo. 

* Before last season's trade deadline they sent a sixth-round pick to Detroit for Kyle Van Noy and a seventh-rounder. 

"Obviously, we’ve been watching a lot of picks go by," Belichick said on Friday, "but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago. The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process. Hopefully we’ve been able to improve our team, become more competitive. That’s the ultimate goal."

Even on the last day of the draft, the Patriots didn't stop trading picks for veterans when they sent No. 183 overall to Kansas City in exchange for tight end James O'Shaughnessy

But when Nick Caserio was asked on Saturday if his team's approach to the draft -- taking more established players instead of gambling on draft picks -- had anything to do with Tom Brady's age, he shot down that theory.

“That has zero to do with it,” Caserio said. “I would say really the team-building process is very fluid. How it is going to go? There’s no template. There is no book with how it is going to go. 

"There’s a lot of really good players that were in this draft that have been drafted and will help their respective teams. We understand that and understand we felt the same way. There were enough players up there that we felt good about. We take the resources that we have and we try and make the best decision for our team."

In reality, the approach of taking such a small number of draftees is probably more a reflection of the current roster than the quarterback's age. It's loaded, and it seems like there will be relatively few opportunities for rookies to make the Week 1 roster.