Free agent primer: Running backs

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Free agent primer: Running backs

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

This is the first in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Running back.

Who's Here?
Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Thomas Clayton, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley.Who's Out There?
Mike Hart (Colts), Kevin Smith (Lions), Ricky Williams (Dolphins), Brian Westbrook (49ers), Kenneth Darby (Rams), Ronnie Brown (Dolphins), Cedric Benson (Bengals), Derrick Ward (Giants), Brandon Jackson (Packers), Michael Bush (Raiders), Joseph Addai (Colts), DeAngelo Williams (Panthers), Jason Snelling (Falcons), Tim Hightower (Cardinals), Noel Devine (UDFA, West Virginia).What's The Need?
Let's call it a 5.

Between them, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead combined for 1,555 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in 2010. They got 4.8 yards per carry combined. Not bad seeing as they were Plans C andZ respectively. Really, there hasn't been a duct-tape job successful as what the Patriots pulled in their backfield since (insert well-known instance of duct-tape use here). But they're not banking on that happening again. The draft told us that. So it's going to be out with the old (Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris - both free agents), in with the new (rookies Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley) and see what Law Firm and Woody can do for an encore. It's going to be a tough fit for soon-to-be 35-year-old running back Kevin Faulk to make the roster. Vereen will become the heir apparent to Faulk and a complement to BJGE. Ridley becomes the short-yardagereplacement for Morris and another complement if BJGE goes down. Who Do They Chase?
They have the young legs, they just don't have an old head. Ricky Williams would be a reasonable bet. Also the underrated backup to Steven Jackson in St, Louis, 28-year-old Kenneth Darby. Who Do We Look At Next?
Wide receivers.Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Edelman, Amendola, Lewis, Vollmer to begin camp on PUP list

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Edelman, Amendola, Lewis, Vollmer to begin camp on PUP list

Training camp practices begin on Thursday for the Patriots, but the team will be without a handful of projected starters when workouts begin. 

Receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, running back Dion Lewis, tight end Clay Harbor and offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson will all begin on the active/physically unable to play list. 

All players on active/PUP will count against the team's active 90-man roster, but none will be eligible to practice until they come off of the PUP list. Players can be removed from PUP at any time. 

Lewis, Harbor and Mason all participated in spring practices at some point, but their inclusion on the PUP list indicates that they could use more time to heal. Edelman, Amendola, Jackson and Vollmer were not spotted during spring practices that were open to the media. 

Other players who were not seen during spring camps -- such as Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Nate Solder, LeGarrette Blount and Josh Kline -- have not been added to the PUP list at this time and could be available for camp when practices begin.