New England Patriots to Implement Fullback, Improved Running Game in 2012

Aaron Dodge@Aaron_DodgeAnalyst IMarch 26, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 11:  Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

As hard as they are to accurately predict, Bill Belichick and Co. do leave behind traces of evidence.

Despite the impressive death grip on information that the New England Patriots employ, it has become quite clear what the team is doing this offseason with regard to its running game personnel.  

The Patriots now have four fullbacks under contract for the upcoming season.

Recently non-tendered in Dallas, Tony Fiametta agreed to a contract with New England today. Just 25 years old, the former fourth-round pick was the lead blocker for DeMarco Murray who ran wild for the Cowboys last season.

Fiametta has nearly no experience handling the ball, but was enough of a promising blocker at fullback that the Carolina Panthers used a mid-round pick on him in 2009. The Panthers were looking to replace long-time starter Brad Hoover with the pick, but concussions derailed Fiametta's chance. 

In Dallas, he dealt with an inner ear issue, which affected his balance and apparently his mood. Fiametta also missed three games last season, likely leading to the Cowboys' signing of Lawrence Vickers. 

Fiametta joins Lousaka Polite, Spencer Larsen and the mythic Eric Kettani. 

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With four players coming to camp at a position the team largely ignored last season, and for the last few seasons for that matter, it appears the Patriots have competition on the mind. Much like the defensive line group in 2011 and the wide receiver corps this offseason, New England would like to see the cream rise to top. 

Second-year pros Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen had experience running behind a fullback at LSU and Cal respectively, and these moves could very well be with the two youngsters in mind.

They weren't selected in back-to-back rounds last year to sit, and the Patriots may be gearing up to let them both run wild in 2012. 

Interested in reading more by this Featured Columnist? Check out more of Aaron Dodge's work

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