Success has not escaped the New England Patriots recently. With one of football’s all-time greats at quarterback in Tom Brady, New England created a dynasty by winning three Super Bowls over a span of four years last decade. They continue to contend on a yearly basis, and one reason that led to positive results was balance.
During their last championship run, the Patriots had Corey Dillon to provide relief for Brady. Stevan Ridley hopes to deliver a similar aspect to his team as he was a third-round selection by New England from LSU in 2011.
It appeared that Ridley was getting off to a slow start with a rookie year that only produced one rushing touchdown. On the other hand, though, 2012 saw him erupt for 12 scores. One concern potentially is consistency as he had 196 yards Weeks 1 and 2 combined but only gained 37 Week 3. In fact there were eight games where he failed to reach 80 yards. I feel a large factor for this is a reliance on Brady, but there is another issue that could prevent Ridley from constantly putting up big numbers.
Shane Vereen was selected in 2011 as well one round ahead of Ridley. He struggled with injury last year while missing three games, but Vereen looks to be more involved in their rotation this year. Brandon Bolden averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2012. He will also be fighting for time, but Ridley may have an advantage.
The running back is said to have gained muscle weight while appearing at OTAs looking “stronger”. This will help even though he already demonstrates the ability to both run between tackles and bust runs outside. After evading defenders Ridley hits open space with good speed which helped him total 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. These traits also give him an ability to win the starting job which I believe he will accomplish.