The Patriots lost BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, which places the onus on second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to develop into big contributors in 2012. The State of the Patriots' running game was a topic of debate at the ESPNBoston.com Patriots Draft Special, spotlighted in the video above. Here's an excerpt of the discussion.
* ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss: "It's sort of exciting. You want to turn to the kids. You drafted Shane Vereen in the second round last year, 56th overall, you need to see what you have in him. You don't want the veteran blocking his path. Put him out there and let's see what he can do. Stevan Ridley you saw flashes last year. The Oakland game in Week 4 I thought he was excellent. I want to see what those young guys can do. ... BenJarvus was a great teammate, great guy. But at $3 million a year when you drafted two guys the year before very high, the decision to move on was a smart one."
* Tedy Bruschi: "This team is significantly worse without BenJarvus Green-Ellis. What he did for this team, and what they're trying to go to now. I think they're trying to re-establish the running game. ... without BenJarvus Green-Ellis, now you have to rely on Ridley. Ridley plays hard, but he's no BenJarvus Green-Ellis and I don't think he ever will be the quality back that Green-Ellis was."
* ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter: "There are two guys here, two high picks. At some point you've got to give these young guys a chance. Plus, if you're unhappy with what you've seen, the free agent running backs that are still out there -- Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Cadillac Williams, Clinton Portis, they're still on the street. If you're not happy with what you've got when you see (Ridley and Vereen) at OTAs, you can go find another running back."
What's your take on the running game? Share your thoughts in the comments section.