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What the addition of Joseph Addai would mean for the Patriots’ running game

05.05.12 at 6:53 pm ET
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Joseph Addai (AP)

The reported addition of veteran running back Joseph Addai would bring another veteran presence to the Patriots backfield. The 5-foot-11, 214-pounder, who turned 29 years old this past Thursday, has played six seasons in the league, all with the Colts, and his finest season came in 2007, when he rushed for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns on 261 carries.

Addai, who was released in March by the Colts, has struggled with injury as of late, having played in just 12 games the last two years. Perhaps as a result, he is not considered a traditional every down back in the mold of the other veteran free agents the Patriots kicked the tires on earlier this offseason, a group that included veterans Ryan Grant and Tim Hightower.

Instead, Addai’s strengths are more as a blocker as a presence in the passing game out of the backfield — in three of his six years in the NFL, he’s gone for 300-plus receiving yards, with his best season coming in 2007 when he caught 41 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns. As a result, if he does join the Patriots, look for him to compete for snaps with New England’s changeup, third-down backs like Danny Woodhead and (if he’s re-signed) Kevin Faulk.

While there’s still time for the Patriots to bring in another veteran running back, it’s reasonable to assume that at least for now, the acquisition of Addai means Stevan Ridley is the closest thing the Patriots have to a No. 1 back (or at least a first- and second-down running back). The New England depth chart now has Ridley, Addai, Shane Vereen (also going into his second season in the league) and Woodhead, while Faulk still remains a possibility to return for his 14th season in the NFL.

Two final notes on Addai: One, if the Patriots do decide to bring back Faulk, that would give them three former LSU running backs on the roster in Addai, Ridley and Faulk. And two, on the first day of the 2006 draft, the Patriots took running back Laurence Maroney 21st overall, while the Colts selected Addai at No. 30. After the first round was done, Indy QB Peyton Manning reportedly texted Tom Brady to say, “You took our running back.” Maroney played four-plus seasons with New England — breaking the 800-yard barrier once — before the Patriots dealt him to Denver in 2010.

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