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If either player or both find themselves taking hand-offs from Tom Brady next season, it will be a small, but important workload. The emergence of Stevan Ridley, who showed flashes of a guy that could be a solid back in the NFL last season (albeit in limited time), and the fact that the Patriots are a heavily pass-oriented offense means any new running back won’t be asked to do too much.
Green-Ellis, who never fumbled for the Patriots, was the perfect back for this offense. Can Ryan Grant or Tim Hightower fit this role well?
Grant had back-to-back 1000-plus yard seasons in 2008 and 2009, but an injury took him down for basically the entire 2010 season. Last season, he had a reduced role in the Packer offense.
If healthy, Grant can be a really good back. He will be 30 this December, but the type of role that the Patriots would ask him to play could be a great way to rejuvenate his career.
Hightower has never been a number one back, and that would be the case in New England, so familiarity with having a non-featured role could prove to be helpful for him if he lands here. Hightower is a versatile back who can catch passes out of the backfield on a regular basis.
Hightower will turn 26 before the start of the season and could find himself in New England for a few years splitting time with whoever else is part of the backfield.
If both players somehow wind up here next season, one back would most likely be the third down back, and the other would get some touches on a regular basis but not as a number one 25-30 touch status.
I like the style of both players and if they are willing to buy into making reps count and not counting reps, both could have a great deal of success as Patriots.