Ridley in position for top role

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Through the first four days of training camp, a picture has started to come into focus as to how the Patriots' running back corps might come together.

Second-year man Stevan Ridley is a big part of it.

In drills, Ridley often is the first running back to receive a repetition. That doesn't necessarily make him the club's No. 1 back -- it will be some form of committee -- but it does position him to potentially fill the biggest part of the void created when BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed with the Bengals in free agency.

"Oh man, I think that's every little kid's dream," Ridley said, when asked how badly he wants to be the No. 1 option. "I'm going to say pretty bad."

Green-Ellis had played a team-high 34 percent of the running back snaps in 2011, with change-of-pace back Danny Woodhead (33 percent), Ridley (14 percent), Kevin Faulk (6 percent) and Shane Vereen (2 percent) rounding things out.

Ridley expects some type of time-share situation again this year -- he's joined by Woodhead, Vereen and rookie free agent Brandon Bolden as the lone backs on the roster -- and hopes his number is called more than in 2011.

"It's a team effort. We have a group of running backs that can all play," he said. "We all do things differently and we all do them well. For me, I'm just going in there trying to pull my load, as coach says, and so are the other guys. Regardless of who it is going to be, one of us is going to be the starting guy and the next will be ready to step up when we're tired."

Of the group, Ridley (5-foot-11, 220) and Bolden (5-11, 220) are bigger, athletic backs, while Woodhead (5-8, 200) and Vereen (5-9, 205) are smaller and faster.

All are considered smart players who can handle the diverse responsibilities that come with the position.