<Harry> f those two are replaced by Vereen and Ridley then maybe BB will
go with Woodhead, the Barrister, Faulk, Vereen and Ridley. Would be nice to
have another year or two of Faulk's experience and leadership around for
<Scott> You had me confused with the Barrister. I was like "Who's the Barrister?" I got to thinking how barrister is another name for a lawyer, then I thought, "the Law Firm - Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis." I too see Taylor and Morris as being gone. Taylor showed flashes of his former self, but he's simply no longer durable enough at his age. He'd come out, show tantalizing flashes of what could've been, and then he'd be off the field for weeks or months with an injury. I think back to that Atlanta game in 2009 and a few other games, and I wonder how great the running game could've been with him as a healthy full time player. It's not going to happen. He's not getting any younger, and all that wear and tear isn't going away. Morris was never a player of Taylor's caliber, but he had his talents, and he filled a role. But, like Taylor, he can no longer stay on the field, AND even when he's healthy, his skills are diminishing. Ridley looks like he can replace Morris in the fullback/short yardage role and on special teams too. I know we often see backup linemen or tight ends at fullback these days, but I think it's better to have a lead blocker with running back experience. They see and anticipate situations with a running back mindset. Plus, they give you a legitimate threat as a ball carrier meaning the defense can't focus on one runner.
One of Faulk's problems coming off his injury is that he's a specialist, and the Pats now have two other younger backs who can fill his role on 3rd downs that aren't short yardage and in other obvious passing situations. Woodhead is as fast as Faulk was in his prime; he seems to have learned the position faster than Faulk did, and he doesn't have that straight up running style Faulk has often displayed in his career that minimizes Faulk's power and robs him of leverage and exposes the ball. It also takes away some of the advantage Faulk's short stature could give a running back. As good as Faulk was, Woodhead may already be better than Faulk was in his prime, never mind an aging Faulk coming off of injury. Vereen has decent RB speed, but he isn't as fast as Faulk was coming out of college. Plus, he's a rookie. But Vereen has the skills and the ability to do what Faulk and Woodhead do. He's very good at catching the ball. The thing is Vereen also has power. At the combine, he outperformed our first round right tackle in bench pressing. In addition to filling the 3rd down role, he could be an every down back. He could do both Green-Ellis's and Faulk's job so I'd think the Pats would want to keep him as someone who could split time with Green-Ellis and replace him in case of injury. Who knows? Maybe he could even challenge Green-Ellis for the starting job.
I think the team should keep five running backs, I just don't know if three of the five should be third down specialists. On the other hand, the Pats do use three wideout, one back sets much more than they use traditional two back sets. Despite his size, Woodhead did split time with Green-Ellis for much of last season, leaving me to believe he can be an every down back if need be for a a few games. We still don't know if Woodhead's size would lead to him being worn down too fast in that role if he had to do it all the time though, but his ability to do it could leave room for another specialist. We also know Faulk can return punts and kickoffs. Most of the scouting on Woodhead coming out of college dismissed him as being a punt returner because he didn't do it in college. (Although if I were the Pats, I'd have Woodhead practicing punt returns a lot. With his speed and elusiveness, he'd be dangerous if he could master the art of catching punts, knowing when to make a fair catch, and knowing when to run, and knowing when to stay away from the ball.) Still, rather than Faulk, I'd prefer to see a bigger, stronger back who could fill roles as both a halfback and a fullback.