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With LeGarrette Blount gone, do Patriots need to add backfield depth?

03.28.14 at 9:30 pm ET
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The departure of LeGarrette Blount to the Steelers means there will be more on the plate of Stevan Ridley in 2014, who now appears likely to return to his role as the closest thing the New England offense has to a featured back. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen figures to work in a change up role as the third down option and pass catcher out of the backfield, and Brandon Bolden will stick in his role as all-purpose backup.

But is there a need to bring in another body for depth? While running back isn’t considered an overwhelming priority for the Patriots (there are other greater areas of need, at least at this stage of the team-building process), it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to address it with a mid-round pickup in the draft, especially considering the fact that the bargain basement has been pretty much picked over, at least at this point. (The best options right now are probably Andre Brown, Michael Bush and Justin Forsett, as well as broken-down editions of Felix Jones, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee.)

With the understanding that the Patriots would be targeting a guy like that no earlier than the third day of the draft because of other areas of greater need, here are three backs who might be available to the Patriots this year as mid- to late-round possibilities:

a) Storm Johnson, Central Florida — A multidimensional back who has already drawn the attention of the Patriots — the 6-foot, 209-pounder was one of a handful of players who went through a workout for the Patriots’ brain trust when they were in Florida this past week for the league meetings — last season he had 1,139 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 30 catches for 260 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

b) Andre Williams, Boston College Remarkably, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder led the nation in rushing last year for the Eagles, ending up with 2,177 rushing yards and becoming a Heisman finalist as a result. At the combine, he fully acknowledged the fact that he needs to improve when it comes to his work in pass protection as well as a receiver out of the backfield, but his colossal yardage total from last year will almost certainly make him attractive to someone.

c) Bishop Sankey, Washington — A little on the smaller side, like Johnson, this 5-foot-9, 209-pounder offers value in the passing game as well as the running game. Last season, he ran for 1,870 yards for a 5.7 average and 20 touchdowns to go along with 28 catches for 304 yards and one touchdown.

Of course, this doesn’t begin to take into account what the Patriots do at the kick return spot in 2014. Blount’s departure could open the door for any number of possibilities on special teams, including Josh Boyce, Devin McCourty or collegian Jeremy Gallon, who had a private workout for New England special teams coach Scotty O’Brien earlier this week in Ann Arbor. While the different looks that the three backs present should be enough to keep opposing defensive coordinators on their toes in 2014, it’s clear the Patriots do need to address the position going forward, especially considering the fact that Vereen and Ridley are heading into the final year of their rookie deals. Certainly a spot to watch going forward this offseason for New England.

Read More: Andre Williams, Bishop Sankey, Brandon Bolden, Devin McCourty

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Washington State SS Deone Bucannon

03.28.14 at 5:30 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Strong safety

School: Washington State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 211 pounds

Achievements: Associated Press and Athlon Sports 2013 first-team All-American, 2013 College Football Performance Awards Elite Defensive Back, 2013 first-team All-Pac-12, 2013 Jim Thorpe award semifinalist

What he brings: The three-time captain impressed with the power that allowed him to lead the Pac-12 in tackles during the 2013 season. Analysts warn, though, that he is stiff in the hips, something that causes problems when he missteps while tracking down an opponent.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Bucannon was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and broad jump at the combine. … He has the second-most solo tackles with 268 and the fourth-most tackles overall with 348 in Washington State history. … Bucannon was suspended for the first half of a game in 2012 after a late hit against Eastern Washington.

Related articles:

The Seattle Times: Ex-WSU safety Deone Bucannon’s draft stock is rising Bucannon ready for NFL combine

Video: Here is a video highlighting Bucannon’s junior and senior seasons at Washington State

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Deone Bucannon,

Report: Patriots re-sign Ryan Wendell

03.28.14 at 4:05 pm ET
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The Patriots have re-signed center Ryan Wendell to a two-year deal, according to ESPN Boston. Wendell, a 28-year-old out of Fresno State, has started every game over the last two seasons for the Patriots.

Earlier this offseason, the Pats brought back long-snapper Danny Aiken on a one-year deal. Their only remaining free agent along the offensive line is Will Svitek, who appeared in 13 games last season.

Report: LeGarrette Blount signs with Steelers

03.28.14 at 3:53 pm ET
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Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has agreed to a two-year deal with the Steelers, according to the National Football Post. Blount reportedly visited with the Steelers on Friday and never left.

Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven touchdowns last season in New England. He made his biggest impact in the divisional round of the playoffs, when he rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts. Blount also led the Patriots with 494 kick return yards on the season.

With Blount gone, the Patriots are left with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden as their main running backs.

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Alabama OG Anthony Steen

03.28.14 at 9:38 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Offensive guard

School: Alabama

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 314 pounds

Achievements: 2013 second-team All-SEC

What he brings: Steen is regarded as a strong player with an ideal frame that allows him to win tough battles. Analysts also point out, though, that Steen has had difficulty with finishing consistently and can show indecisiveness when blocking downfield.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-5

Notes: Steen was part of an Alabama offensive line that was ranked seventh in FBS in sacks allowed. The Clarksdale, Miss., native suffered a concussion during the 2013 season and also missed the Sugar Bowl after he needed shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn labrum. Steen did not participate in individual drills during the NFL combine because of his surgery but plans to take part in Alabama’€™s second pro day on April 8.

Related articles: Wrapping up former Alabama offensive guard Anthony Steen’s trip to the 2014 NFL Combine Report: Anthony Steen of Alabama Crimson Tide has surgery, likely out for Sugar Bowl

Video: Here is a video highlighting Steen’s performance against Virginia Tech.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Anthony Steen,

Vince Wilfork agrees to extension with Patriots

03.27.14 at 5:56 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has agreed to a three-year contract extension to keep him in New England after a rocky offseason of negotiations.

The deal is worth a reported three years and $22.5 million, with $3 million guaranteed. Following news of the agreement, Wilfork posted the following to Twitter, along with a picture of his new contract:

“It’s been hard to remain quiet and let things take its course but it has been the best thing to do. Negotiations are never easy especially when you have a 10 year history with a team and more importantly relationships. For those who have supported me I think you , for those who have called me every name in the book I thank you too. My intentions have never changed 10 years ago my goal was to retire as a patriot and as I sit here typing this I am closer to achieving my goal. I look forward to getting back to football and helping my team compete and have a chance at winning a Super Bowl.” (sic)

For more Patriots news, visit

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Washington RB Bishop Sankey

03.27.14 at 5:21 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Running back

School: Washington

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 209 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-Pac-12

What he brings: While not extremely big or fast, Sankey is a good all-around back who shows good vision and toughness. He can hit the interior hard and protect the ball effectively. He doesn’t have big-play speed, but he has quick feet. Sankey has shown to be a more than capable and willing pass blocker and is effective catching out of the backfield.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: In 2013, Sankey ran for 1,870 yards for a 5.7 average and 20 touchdowns. He also had 28 catches for 304 yards and one TD. … Despite being on the losing team, Sankey was named the MVP of the 2012 Maaco Bowl with 205 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and 74 receiving yards. … Sankey never missed a game in his three seasons at Washington. He was voted a captain last season as a junior.

Related articles:

Seattle Times: Bishop Sankey, UW’s humble star, shines on field and in the classroom

Seattle Times: Huskies’ Bishop Sankey does it all … except brag

Video: Here are Sankey’€™s highlights against Boise State in 2013.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Bishop Sankey,
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