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Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Rams.  The team hasn't told us anything about his injury or how long he'll be out.  RB Shane Vereen will once again operate as New England's change-of-pace, likely seeing 6-10 touches. Stevan Ridley will continue to serve as the lead back.

Patriots insider Christopher Price believes RB Shane Vereen "turned a corner" with his 8-carry, 49-yard effort against the Jets on Sunday.  HC Bill Belichick spoke highly of Vereen on Tuesday.  “Shane’s a smart kid, he has a good understanding of the game,” Belichick said. “He’s an elusive guy — he’s got good balance, plenty of strength for his size. [He’s] not the biggest guy, but [there’s] plenty of strength; he gives us some versatility there. I think he’s able to run inside, run in some traffic, but he’s a good space player, on the edge and in the passing game."  At this point, Vereen isn't a threat to Stevan Ridley's lead back role.  But Vereen might have already bypassed the injured Brandon Bolden for the #2 job.  He's worth a speculative add in deeper fantasy leagues.

Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Jets.  Stevan Ridley will see a full workload against the league's 25th-ranked RB defense.  Get him in fantasy lineups.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley fumbled for the 2nd time in as many weeks on Sunday.  Ball-security problems late last year got him benched.  It's still unclear what the dropsies will mean for Ridley this time around, but HC Bill Belichick didn't sound amused on Monday.  When asked what Ridley's latest fumble will mean for his playing time going forward, Belichick replied, "There's nothing more important than possession of the ball. We can't afford to lose it, it's as simple as that."  Besides the fumbles, Ridley has been brilliant this season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and scoring 4 times.  That should help him hang on to the lead role in New England's backfield.  But there's no guarantees here.  It'll be something to watch this coming weekend.

11:49am EDT 9/30/12

Patriots RB Shane Vereen will make his 2012 debut today against the Bills.  He's been sidelined by a foot injury for over a month.  Vereen will play a bit role by RB Stevan Ridley for the time being.  He's worth monitoring but isn't a fantasy option.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Cardinals after putting in a week of limited practices.  We're expecting him to be active, but he'll play a bit role on offense behind RB Stevan Ridley.  Vereen is worth hanging onto in deeper leagues but isn't a fantasy option right now.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (foot) returned to practice on Wednesday.  It looks like he has a good shot of playing against the Cardinals this weekend.  But we'll have to see what kind of role he has before he becomes a fantasy option.  RB Stevan Ridley was ultra-impressive in the opener.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (foot) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Titans.  He didn't practice at all this week, and there's no timetable for his return.  Meanwhile, Stevan Ridley is now locked in as the lead back this weekend.  He's a strong fantasy option against what looks like a leaky Titans run defense.  RB Danny Woodhead figures to play on passing downs but isn't a recommended fantasy starter.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen has yet to practice since injuring his foot in the preseason finale.  Reports out of New England had the injury as minor, but you never know with the Pats.  Consider Vereen questionable for Week 1.  RB Stevan Ridley would get a slight boost if Vereen can't go.  It'd also lock RB Danny Woodhead into the pass-catching role.

Patriots insider Jeff Howe passes along word that the foot injury RB Shane Vereen suffered last week is not serious.  But Howe adds that it "doesn't necessarily mean he will avoid a cut or IR."  Whoah!  Vereen looked to be making up ground on RB Stevan Ridley for the starting job just a couple weeks ago.  Now he's on the roster bubble?  We're not buying it, but it's clear that Ridley is locked-in as New England's lead back.  Vereen will likely be used in a passing-down role to start the season.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley seemed to be losing his grip on the lead back role over the past week.  He took it back in a big way on Friday night.  Ridley went for 87 yards and a score on 16 carries against the Bucs.  He also caught 3 balls for 17 yards.  RB Shane Vereen, meanwhile, took 2 carries for negative 3 yards before leaving with a foot injury.  We'll pass along an update on Vereen's status when we get one, but Ridley will open the season as New England's lead back.  That should mean about 15 touches per game, including goal line work.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen was featured in Monday night's preseason game against the Eagles. He got the start and touched the ball on each of New England's first 3 plays. Vereen finished with just 20 yards on his 10 carries but didn't get much help from his offensive line. We liked the power and wiggle he displayed. Vereen also hauled in 4 of his 5 targets for 29 yards. Meanwhile, RB Stevan Ridley worked with the 1st and 2nd-team offenses, finishing with 25 yards on 10 carries. His only target fell incomplete. We get the feeling that the Patriots wanted to see what they have in Vereen last night. He showed well, especially as a receiver. Ridley is still our pick to lead the backfield in carries -- and handle the goal line work. But this will be a committee. And Vereen might even end up being the better option in PPR formats. We just updated our projections for the Patriots' backfield.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley suffered a right knee injury in practice on Thursday.  He watched the rest of the workout on the sidelines and then walked to the locker room under his own power, so it doesn't seem like a serious problem.  But any missed time could give RB Shane Vereen a chance to make up ground.  He's reportedly already been doing so over the past week.  We don't think the pecking order in the Pats' backfield is settled yet.  It's a situation worth monitoring closely over the next dew weeks.

Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss believes RB Shane Vereen has "closed the gap" on RB Stevan Ridley over the past week.  Ridley fumbled in a recent practice, and Vereen saw a big uptick in 1st-team reps as a result.  "More competition to be played out," Reiss confirms.  We still like Ridley to lead the backfield in carries, but Vereen should see plenty of action, especially on passing downs.  Let's see how both guys look in the next 2 preseason games.

RB Stevan Ridley has emerged as the Patriots' lead back -- at least for now.  But it sounds like RB Shane Vereen will play a significant role on passing downs.  He's received a lot of reps on passing plays in camp, according to insider Jeff Howe.  "Vereen runs good routes for a running back, and he has shown off some nice hands while making a few difficult catches," Howe writes.  "Vereen has developed a good rapport with quarterback Tom Brady, who obviously has plenty of targets, but it’s clear that Brady will go in Vereen’s direction with his check-downs."  New England has produced some big-time receiving numbers at RB in recent years.  In fact, 2011 was the first season in 6 years that the Pats didn't have a RB catch at least 34 balls.  If Vereen can beat out Danny Woodhead for passing-down duties, he'll carry RB3 or flex appeal in PPR formats.  And there's always a chance that HC Bill Belichick flip-flops and goes with Vereen as the lead back at some point this season.  We still like the Cal product at his 13th-round ADP.

A couple late-season fumbles put Patriots RB Stevan Ridley in the doghouse last year.  But Field Yates of ESPN Boston has noticed improved ball-security from the 2nd-year back.  Ridley has yet to fumble in training camp.  That could be the final step towards him becoming the clear lead dog in New England's backfield.  Ridley has been one of the stars of camp so far and seems to be distancing himself from RB Shane Vereen.  While Ridley's week-to-week workload still figures to be unpredictable, he has definite double-digit TD potential on New England's high-scoring offense.  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored 24 times over the past 2 seasons as the goal line back.  Ridley is more talented.

Reports out of Patriots camp have RB Stevan Ridley seeing most of the 1st-team reps.  RB Shane Vereen has mixed in, mostly on passing plays.  RB Danny Woodhead has been in his usual 3rd-down role.  It's still early, and we know New England's backfield usage can change from game to game.  But as of now, it looks like Ridley will be the early-down pounder, a la BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  Vereen could be used as the primary change-of-pace and pass-catching back, with Woodhead also seeing action in passing situations.  Ridley remains the best bet for production, but he'll be tough to rely on from week to week.  We're not falling over ourselves to grab him at his current 7.11 ADP.  We'd rather take a shot on Vereen at 13.06.

Patriots insider Jeff Howe nominates RB Shane Vereen as a 2012 breakout candidate. "Vereen got a ton of playing time during offseason camps, and his role will increase significantly this season if he stays healthy," Howe writes. It's another reminder not to forget about Vereen in fantasy drafts. A hamstring injury set him back last season, but the Patriots liked him enough to reach for him in the 2nd-round of the 2011 draft. He could easily finish with as many or more total touches than RB Stevan Ridley. And Vereen is currently the 61st RB off the board in average fantasy drafts.

After being selected 56th overall in last year's draft, Patriots RB Shane Vereen carried just 15 times for 57 yards.  An August hamstring injury put him behind the 8-ball, and we even heard whispers that Vereen was in danger of being cut.  But according to insider Mike Reiss, the Pats still have "high hopes" for Vereen.  A well-rounded back with plenty of speed, he'd be a nice complement to RB Stevan Ridley.  There are plenty of carries up for grabs in New England after RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis' departure.

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