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Patriots' Vereen, Ridley battle to replace Green-Ellis

The New England Patriots' offensive attack in the Brady/Belichick era has never been predicated on having a workhorse running back, but the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a free agent did create question marks in Foxborough.

The obvious question is who will become the primary ball carrier in 2012? It's been speculated that Stevan Ridley will get first crack at the job, but the Boston Herald reported on Sunday that Shane Vereen "served as the top back during practice" in the session made open to the media last week.

This doesn't necessarily mean Vereen is regularly leading the unit, since the media didn't have access to the first two OTA sessions. Ridley saw limited action last season but averaged more than five yards a carry on 81 attempts. His 441 yards rushing were second on the team behind Green-Ellis (667).

Of course, trying to make sense of the depth chart -- a Bill Belichick depth chart, no less -- is a pointless endeavor at this point, but Vereen certainly figures to be in the mix for some of the 181 rushing attempts Green-Ellis took with him to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Patriots' RB depth chart also includes holdover Danny Woodhead, undrafted free agent Brandon Bolden and veteran Joseph Addai, who signed with the Pats this month after six seasons with the rival Indianapolis Colts.

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