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Dave D'Onofrio's Patriots Notebook: Running game set an aggressive tone
Back then, as you may recall, much of the talk after the preseason opener was about Shane Vereen. He carried the ball 11 times for 64 yards that night, compared to 40 yards on eight touches for Stevan Ridley. The next week they split the carries, 10 apiece. Then by Week 3, when the ramping up really begins, Ridley had 16 hauls for 87 yards. Vereen touched the ball twice, losing yards on both carries. Then it was Week 10 before he had his 23rd carry of the regular season.
If there are questions about how the Patriots will move the ball if, as expected, they're forced to open the season without their top five receivers from last season, the balance afforded by a formidable ground game would certainly be a good place to start. And Friday night suggested a commitment and a capability of establishing that, right from the very start.
"Incredible," Brady said. "Hand the ball off as many times as we did on the first drive and get the ball in the end zone - it was great. The offensive line took a lot of pride in that. We're challenged to be a tough football team, so to really do that and run the ball like we did was great."
"We had big runs, we had short yardage runs where we needed to get the ball, we ran in on the goal line," Brady said. "That establishes the identity of the team how well you run, how well you stop the run, and all those guys did a great job. They are big strong powerful runners that want the ball in their hands, and when they get in the rhythm, they make a bunch of plays."
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