New England Chats with a Couple Free Agent Running Backs

A couple free agent running backs paid the Patriots a visit on Friday, as both Ryan Grant and Tim Hightower talked to the team about coming aboard for the 2012 season.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe reports that former Colts running back Joseph Addai is visiting the Patriots, as well.

Addai, a 2006 first-round pick out of LSU, ran for 433 yards and a touchdown in 15 games last season. Over his career, Addai has 4,523 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

Grant, 29, has spent the last five seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who acquired the former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame from the New York Giants. Grant ran for 3,412 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first 47 games with the Packers, but missed all but one game in 2010 with an ankle injury and was limited to just 559 yards and touchdowns on 134 carries in 2011.

Hightower was a 2008 fifth round pick out of Richmond by the Arizona Cardinals who rushed for 1,733 yards and 23 touchdowns in 48 games before he was traded to the Washington Redskins after last year’s lockout ended. Hightower started the first five games and rushed for 321 yards and a touchdown before suffering a torn ACL that ended his season.

New England lost running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to free agency and longtime running back Kevin Faulk is an unrestricted free agent. Currently, 2011 draft picks Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen and the versatile Danny Woodhead comprise the team’s running backs at this time, so the Patriots would certainly benefit from the veteran presence that a Addai, Grant or Hightower would bring to the team, though today’s visit is likely just the club doing some tire-kicking before the draft.

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