Sunday, May 18, 2014

Finch adds versatility to Patriots' crowded RB corps


Despite playing the same position, No. 29 for the New England Patriots looks much different this year than in 2013.

Gone is the 250-pound bruising running back LeGarrette Blount; in is Roy Finch, a tailback nearly 100 pounds lighter and six inches shorter. But don't let his size fool you -- the Oklahoma product plans on getting actively involved in all facets of the team's offensive production.

"I can be spotted pretty much anywhere on the field," Finch said via Phil Perry of "I’m very explosive. I can catch. I’m just excited to learn and be in whatever position I can be in to help this team win."

Besides his elusive skillset out of the backfield, Finch was also utilized in the passing game for the Sooners, scoring two touchdowns through the air his senior year as a slot receiver.  His 4.44 40-yard speed also came in handy in the return game, where he tallied 43 career returns at an average of more than 25 yards per attempt.

That could be a valuable asset for New England, which lost its main return man and most productive running back when Blount shipped off to the Steelers. Brandon Bolden, the team's fourth-round pick three years ago, showed promise running between the tackles last year before Blount got rolling, and the team is hoping Stevan Ridley has since worked on the fumbleitis that plagued him last year. 

The most noticeable void from the team's running back corps last season, however, was the time Shane Vereen spent rehabbing his broken wrist. The 25-year-old was a crucial part of the team's passing game, and Finch could easily slide into that role if Vereen's injury continues to linger

Finch's low mileage despite four full years at Oklahoma, coupled with his love of the Pats as a child, could turn out to be a match made in heaven for both parties.

"When the Patriots called they were my favorite team since I was little, it was a perfect fit," he said. "My agent didn’t consider other teams. I guess he knew the Patriots for a while, and he was like, 'This is the perfect fit for you.'"

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