Though the New England Patriots have typically thrived upon the right arm of Tom Brady, the running game has emerged as a real threat over the past two seasons.
Since 2012, the Pats have averaged just a shade over 4.3 yards per rush, good for 10th in the league, per Pro-Football-Reference. Moreover, their 53 rushing touchdowns lead the league during that span, an indication of their willingness to sidestep the truncated passing windows of the red zone.
Going into 2014, New England faces short-term stability but long-term question marks at running back. The trio of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden provide returning stability, but each of them are entering the final year of their respective rookie deal and could conceivably bolt in the offseason. Fourth-rounder James White should be part of the committee this year and looms as an important piece of the future.
New England's egalitarian system will prevent any single back from assuming a Petersonian workload. Thus, depth chart assignments can be tricky. However, based upon last year's distribution and the early signs from OTAs this year, we can decipher the early pecking order as well as key issues facing the position this upcoming season.