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AFC East Positional Breakdowns: Running Backs
By on July 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm

070814-lamar660In a series leading up to the start of Dolphins training camp later this month, The Finsiders will bring you positional breakdowns of each team in the AFC East.

During Tuesday’s show, former Dolphins running back Troy Stradford and The Finsiders shared their analysis on the running back position across the division.  Here’s an overview regarding running backs in the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins

Projected Starter: Lamar Miller/Knowshon Moreno

Key Reserves: Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen

Overview: The Dolphins are looking to improve on last year’s production from the tailback spot, as the team finished 26th in yards rushing and 27th in rushing touchdowns. Miami returns all its running backs from last year’s 53 man roster, which was spearheaded by now third year rusher Lamar Miller. Miller led all backs with 709 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The new addition to the roster is a back who can produce in both the rushing and receiving game in former Broncos halfback Knowshon Moreno, who racked up 1,586 yards from scrimmage last season. Moreno was an all-purpose weapon for Peyton Manning and Denver last year, and the Dolphins are hoping he can play a similar role.

New England Patriots

Projected Starters: Shane Vereen/Stevan Ridley

Key Reserves: Brandon Bolden, James White

Overview: With the rare exception of possibly the year Corey Dillon solely held the running back duties back in 2004, the Patriots during the Bill Belichick era have been a team with a running back by committee mantra. This year will be no exception. The Pats have at least two players that will share the majority of the carries this season. Stevan Ridley probably could be an every down back with his workhorse-like style, but ball security has hounded him recently with eight fumbles in the past two years. Shane Vereen is an elusive pass catching back and strong pass blocker in a form reminiscent of longtime Pats scatback Kevin Faulk. James White is a Senior Bowl standout that was selected by New England in the end of the fourth round from Wisconsin.

New York Jets

Projected Starters: Chris Johnson/Chris Ivory

Key Reserves: Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson

Overview: The ground-and-pound attack style of the Jets was embodied by their lead back last year, Chris Ivory. The bruising back averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry while splitting time with Bilal Powell, New York’s substitute back who likely will primarily play on third downs this season. The new headliner in the Big Apple is CJ2K, former Tennessee Titans tailback Chris Johnson. Johnson’s yardage production has decreased in recent seasons, but he still has produced more than 1,000 yards in each of his six seasons. He’s also a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2009.

Buffalo Bills

Projected Starters: Fred Jackson/CJ Spiller

Key Reserves: Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon

Overview: Quite possibly the strongest running back group in the division, the Bills boast an explosive pair in the backfield. Both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller would be quality starters on any team, but together, they cause havoc for opposing defenses. They ran for a combined 2,395 all-purpose yards and 12 total touchdowns last season. Jackson is more of the elder statesman at age 33, while Spiller is the playmaking dynamo that can line up all over the field. Backing those two up are new additions Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. Brown spelled LeSean McCoy from time to time in Philadelphia, while Dixon is a power back that previously plied his trade in San Francisco.

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