Patriots

Patriots

The New England Patriots have plenty of weaknesses on their roster entering the 2020 NFL season, but running back is not one of them.

The Patriots are fortunate to have a deep, talented and versatile running back room. Do they actually have the deepest running back group in the league? One retired player thinks they do.

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Shane Vereen played four seasons with the Patriots from 2011 through 2014.

He primarily made an impact as a pass-catching running back, and he tallied 52 receptions (a career high at the time) for New England during the 2014 campaign. Vereen also caught 11 passes on 12 targets in the Patriots' win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX that season. He left the Patriots a few months later and signed with the New York Giants in free agency.

Vereen had plenty of good things to say about the Patriots running backs during an interview with WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" on Wednesday.

"I would say it's the deepest running back room in the league," Vereen said. "Absolutely the deepest, and probably the most versatile, too."

It's hard to argue the Patriots' versatility at running back.

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James White is one of the most versatile running backs in the league and also ranks among the top receiving threats at the position. White has posted 159 receptions and 12 receiving touchdowns over the last two years. Sony Michel had a disappointing sophomore season after an impressive rookie campaign. In fairness, his second season was negatively impacted by the team's injury/depth issues on the offensive line and at fullback. 

 

Rex Burkhead is another quality running back on the Pats depth chart. He's especially effective in short yardage situations, which came in handy during the 2018 AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Damien Harris is the other notable running back on New England's roster. The 2019 third-round pick didn't play much at all as a rookie, but he does have plenty of talent and impressed during the preseason last year. Harris' powerful run style and ability to break tackles could make him a valuable player in short yardage and goal line situations. Brandon Bolden is the other Patriots running back, and he makes a tremendous impact on special teams.

The Patriots will need their run game to be better in 2020 now that Tom Brady is no longer leading the team. A balanced offense will be vital to New England's success without an elite, experienced starter at quarterback.