FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With running back Stevan Ridley out for the season with a knee injury, the team will be calling upon others to fill the void in the run game.
The most likely candidate is the one with the most experience, Shane Vereen.
Vereen, however, has yet to be an every-down back, so the Patriots might employ an RB-by-committee approach.
Brandon Bolden, one back who could see an increase in carries, explained how valuable experience is at a time like this.
“It’s experience, like playing a video game -- experience points,” Bolden said. “And Shane and Ridley lead the room. I think I come in as a close third and Jonas [Gray] behind me and then we have James [White]. And we all feed off of that. You see something one game, tell the next guy. And the next guy, they go out and do the same thing next time.”
Despite being inactive for five of the six games this season, rookie James White out of Wisconsin looks poised to have an opportunity to make his mark in the NFL.
“I hope the best for [Ridley],” White said. “He’s a guy that I looked up to. A good friend that helped me out a lot, but at the same time I’ll be ready, as well as the rest of the other running backs.
“I’m just going to do whatever the coaches tell me. Every game plan is different and I’m going to go out here during practice and just continue to work hard,” he said.
White, who rushed for 4,015 yards and 45 touchdowns as a four-year player at Wisconsin, has the confidence to carry his college performances over to the NFL.
“Definitely, you have to be confident,” White said. “Whenever you get an opportunity out there you want to go out there and make the most of those opportunities.”
White also feels his practice repetitions have helped his development and preparations for a moment like this.
“For sure. Continue to work hard during practice this week, continue to work hard by getting reps and making the most of those reps,” White said. “If I get a chance on [Thursday], I’ll make the most of those reps.”
The other running back on the roster who might be called upon is practice squad member Jonas Gray. At 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Gray is a physical runner with characteristics similar to Ridley.
“Well, Ridley, the guy is tough,” Gray said. “He makes those runs out of nothing sometimes. That’s what I’ve learned from him is how to run with that power. He’s taught me a lot.
“I think we have a similar style. We both have a power style to us. He runs with a reckless abandon. I know I want to be just like that.”
With the extra attention this week on him, Gray isn’t letting the potential of a call-up to the 53-man roster affect his usual preparations.
“I try to not overhype myself, I just go through my normal preparation,” Gray said. “The thing that the staff does here is make sure the guys that aren’t playing in the game, they are always getting extra work -- always working on Patriots stuff either after practice, before practice, on film, before anyone gets here. So, it’s just preparing that way. I feel like I have a good grip on the offense and it’s all coming together.”
Gray has not received any indication that the team will make a roster move before Thursday’s game, but he will be ready if the time comes.
“I’m just preparing the same way I have been,” Gray said. “For me, it’s the same mindset, I’m just waiting for my number to get called. We will see what happens.”