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Bye-Week Breakdown: Running backs

10.21.11 at 1:53 pm ET
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With the Patriots off this weekend, we’€™ve got our Bye Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots. We’€™ve already put the tight ends, wide receivers and offensive line in the spotlight. Now, it’€™s the running backs.

Overview: The Patriots running game has had a very successful start to the 2011 season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 124 yards per game — excellent numbers when you consider that the Pats have faced three of the top 11 run defenses in the league (Dallas, Miami and San Diego) in terms of yards allowed through the first six weeks. They have been able to provide balance, occasional support in the passing game and help in blitz pickup. With Shane Vereen seeing his first action of the season last week against Dallas and Kevin Faulk now eligible to come off the PUP list, it will be interesting to see how the running game operates the rest of the season, but thus far it has certainly lived up to — and at times exceeded — expectations.

Depth chart: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (91 carries, 391 yards, five touchdowns, 4.3 yards per carry), Danny Woodhead (30 carries, 122 yards, zero touchdows, 4.1 yards per carry), Stevan Ridley (28 carries, 180 yards, one touchdowns, 6.4 yards per carry), Shane Vereen (zero carries).

Best moment: In the second half of the Patriots’ win over the Jets, Green-Ellis had 85 yards and allowed New England to engineer 11-play and 13-play drives to keep the clock moving and close out the game. On the 13-yard drive, Green-Ellis got the ball on nine of the plays and came away with 59 of the 69 yards (including runs of 15, 14, 8 and 7 yards) that led to a 28-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to make it a two-score game with just over a minute left.

Worst moment: It was more for lack of attempts, but the Patriots’ running game seemed a little out of sync in the first half of the loss to the Bills. New England only attempted 11 rushes in the first two quarters and came away with 35 yards for 3.2 yards per carry, the lowest yards per carry average the running backs have had for one half all season long.

By the numbers: Through six games, Green-Ellis leads the team in total touches with 95 (91 carries, four receptions). Wide receiver Wes Welker is in second place overall with 52 (one carry, 51 receptions).

Money quote: ‘€œBenny, he’€™s a great guy to block for. He’€™s going to read the play, he’€™s going to find the right hole. He’€™s not going to fumble. He’€™s going to do the right thing. He’€™s going to give you everything he’€™s got. He’€™s a great guy to block for.’€ – Offensive lineman Logan Mankins on Green-Ellis

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, bye week breakdown, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk
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