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After visiting with Reggie Bush, Patriots now consider alternatives

The New England Patriots hosted free-agent running back Reggie Bush this week, considering him as part of the replacement plans for Shane Vereen, but with Bush joining the 49ers on Saturday, the focus turns elsewhere.

It is unclear how aggressively the Patriots pursued Bush, but bringing him to town obviously indicates some level of interest.

The role of pass-catching running back in the Patriots' offense is a critical one, as Vereen made 99 receptions during the past two seasons. Bush had 94 catches over the same span.

In the end, the Patriots might find that the answer is already on their roster in the form of 2014 fourth-round draft pick James White. Also, fourth-year player Dion Lewis -- who fits that profile -- will vie for a roster spot.

The draft is another avenue to potentially fill the role, as Miami's Duke Johnson is one high-round consideration who fits the mold as a receiver out of the backfield.

In veteran free agency, New Orleans' Pierre Thomas is a bit bigger at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, but he's also known for his ability to catch the football (122 catches in the past two seasons).