FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Practice was ending for the Patriots when running back Stevan Ridley got into a shoving match with cornerback Kyle Arrington.
"It's camp, man, it's camp," New England's top rusher said. "We're
competitive out here."
Arrington knocked Ridley to the ground following a pass completion on
the final play of Tuesday's session, the fifth straight day of training
camp practice. Then came the shoves, a minor incident lasting just
"At this point of camp, we're tired of going up against the same guys
every day," Arrington said. "Tempers flare, but it stays on the field."
The Patriots practice for two days in Philadelphia next week before
Friday night's exhibition opener against the Eagles.
It will be New England's first chance to see how its group of young
running backs does in game action. Ridley and Shane Vereen are entering
their third pro seasons, while LaGarrette Blount, obtained in April in
a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, heads into his fourth.
"This running back group is very young," said Ridley, who rushed for
1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. "It's a bunch of different
style runners ... but I think that we have pretty much every runner
that we need. We have receivers out of the backfield. We have power
runners. We have slashers.
"We're going to work as one unit and we're going to get it done,
however we have to get it done, on the ground."
The Patriots may rely more on the rushing game this year after their
massive turnover in receiving personnel.
Six of their 12 wide receivers are rookies. Their top two from last
year — Wes Welker with 118 catches and Brandon Lloyd with 74 — are
gone. Julian Edelman was third among the wide receivers with 21 catches
but could start the season on the physically unable to perform list,
requiring him to miss the first six games.
At tight end, Aaron Hernandez was cut after being arrested and then
charged with murder, and Rob Gronkowski could open the season on the
physically unable to perform list while recovering from back surgery.
"I hope that the offense has enough versatility and flexibility built
within it so that we can do what we need to do to win with the players
that we have," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Blount is a power runner. He rushed for 1,007
yards as a rookie in 2010 but only 131 in 13 games last season.
"I'm expecting to do whatever they need me to do," he said.
Vereen could assume some of the role Danny Woodhead played as a
third-down back and receiver out of the backfield. Woodhead signed a
free-agent deal with the San Diego Chargers after catching 40 passes
"We've added a few guys, but the offense calls for all of us to do a
lot of things," Vereen said. "We have a long way to go as a group.
Everybody has their things that they need to work on, including myself."
Leon Washington also could play a receiving role. The Patriots signed
the 31-year-old free agent primarily to return kicks, but he was a
productive pass catcher with the New York Jets in his first three
seasons from 2006-08.
"He's played (running back) before but not a lot recently with the
Seahawks," coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll put him in our system,
teach him the things that he needs to learn at that position, evaluate
him with the other players."
The Patriots will have a day off before resuming practice on Thursday.
They plan to practice with the Eagles next Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I'm excited because we're that much closer to the season getting
rolling," Ridley said. "Camp is back-to-back days looking at the same
coaches, the same players, and the first preseason game really can't
come soon enough.
"We're out here beating up on each other and working hard, but
Philadelphia's coming up soon."
Blount will get to see his college coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly, who is
in his first season with the Eagles. Kelly ran an uptempo offense at
Oregon, and the Patriots often run plays without huddling.
"It's kind of tough just learning this (Patriots) offense," Blount
said, "but my experience at Oregon helps me a little with that."
NOTES: Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Gronkowski held an
extensive conversation on the sideline. Kraft also talked with backup
quarterback Ryan Mallett on the field while the team was conducting
field goal practice. ... Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, a potential
starter after being drafted in the second round, did not practice. The
Patriots did not give a reason. ... Free agent tight end Zach Sudfeld
got an animated congratulations from quarterback Tom Brady after making
a diving catch.
Patriots Will Lean On Versatile RBs
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