Stevan Ridley Injured
Stevan Ridley injured his right knee Sunday in Buffalo after a two yard loss. It first appeared that it was a right ankle injury, but after getting medical attention for several minutes on the field he limped off the field to the Patriots sideline and had his knee examined. He made it to the sideline under his own power and tried walking on it on the sideline, but after further evaluation he walked to the team's locker room and was ruled out with a knee injury. Stevan Ridley, at 5'11 220 pounds, 4.66 in the 40 yard dash is the best pure runner in the Patriots running back stable and brings an element of toughness between the tackles that Shane Vereen simply doesn't have. In the Patriots' 3 previous wins before Stevan Ridley's unfortunate knee injury he averaged 24 carries a game, 89 yards per game, while averaging 3.7 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns.
Shane VereenShane Vereen
Vereen at 5'10 205 is smaller than Stevan Ridley, but Vereen is faster with his 4.5 second 40 yard dash. Vereen's size also scares you when you think he is going to have to pick up blitzing linebackers that are 240 pounds, can he do that? Vereen has never been asked to carry the ball a lot in his 4 year career with New England, but he does have a career 4.6 yard per carry average, which is pretty good. Vereen is also a much better receiver out of the backfield than Stevan Ridley. Vereen will not be able to take on the number of carries Stevan Ridley could and stay healthy so he will need help from James White and Brandon Bolden.
James White is built like Vereen in that he is 5'10 206 pounds and runs the 40 yard dash in 4.57 seconds. White is more physical than Vereen, but he is also undersized and fills the same role that Vereen does. He has prototype speed and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He should be able to give Vereen a break and the offense can run as if Vereen is in there and they don't have to change anything.
Brandon BoldenBrandon Bolden
Brandon Bolden at 5'11 220 pounds is built more like Stevan Ridley and can fill the void when the Patriots need a tough physical runner between the tackles. He runs a 4.66 40 yard dash so he doesn not have prototype speed, but he has a career 4.5 yard per carry average, which is pretty good, but not great. Bolden can also catch the ball out of the backfield as well.
When the Patriots are in the Spread they should have Vereen and White in the game to utilize their speed and receiving skills. They can help each other by giving each other a rest. They can both run the same type of plays so the offense does not have to change depending on when Vereen or White is in the game. Bolden should be used when the Patriots are under center running between the tackles. That is more his strength and he can fill the void the Patriots have now that Ridley is out. The Patriots are lucky that they have Bolden because he can fill in for Stevan Ridley unlike Vereen or White. So, they do not have to change their offense much, just tweak it a little.