Chiefs vs. Patriots was my favorite game from the 2011 season. Part of it had to do with Julian Edelman's sensational punt return, but mostly, it had to do with Shane Vereen's dramatic touchdown.
I came away from that game feeling like that touchdown was a glimpse into the future. Ever since then, I've been itching to see Vereen play a consistent role on the team. Come 2012, he'll get that opportunity.
Stevan Ridley will get the same opportunity. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season, and his natural athleticism is definitely piquing my interest. In the absence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I'm intrigued to see how Ridley responds to the added pressure of being "the man."
Joseph Addai was a great addition. He understands the rigors of a complex system and knows the game. He's made a living by working with an elite quarterback and running the ball at a consistently high level for a championship team.
At 29 years old, Addai is only six years older than Vereen and Ridley. Granted, six years is a lifetime in the career of a running back, but that age span is close enough for me to believe that he can relate to the younger guys, provide guidance and contribute in a meaningful way.
As soon as BenJarvus Green-Ellis left, Danny Woodhead should've had this position on lockdown. It was his for the taking. Problem is, Woodhead continues to take one step forward and one step back in his development.
For that reason, this continues to be an open position.
Vereen and Ridley are competing for a chance to be the Patriots' top running back. That's a ton of pressure for two kids who haven't seen much action. I know they can run, I know they're tough, but I don't know if they can protect the ball. That'll be a huge issue moving forward, especially when you consider the fact that the previous occupant of this job never fumbled the football.
I can't wait to see Vereen and Ridley put their skills on display. They have a full season to show us what they've got.
Overall Grade: B+