Stay warm, Ridley, the Pats need you (USAT)
Sunday in Buffalo, Shane Vereen was the best Patriot on the field. Monday in Foxboro, he's just another guy with an uncertain injury timetable.
Vereen broke a small bone in his wrist during his first snap Sunday, news first reported by Fox's Jay Glazer on Monday afternoon. Vereen gallantly played through the discomfort, totaling 101 yards on 14 carries and adding 58 yards on seven catches. Vereen's play was critical to New England, given that Stevan Ridley (one lost fumble, one aborted fumble) spent the majority of the day banished to the doghouse.
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Vereen is having surgery Monday and will miss multiple games, opening up the Patriots backfield again. Ridley probably gets the featured role back by default, though a short leash is likely. Every coach hates fumbles, obviously, but Bill Belichick especially loathes them - and reacts to them. Ridley was effective Sunday when he wasn't coughing the ball up, collecting 46 yards on nine carries. Still, he never saw the field after his second-quarter miscue (which turned into a gift return touchdown for the Bills).
LeGarrette Blount also made an appearance at Buffalo but did nothing with the opportunity - seven carries, 15 yards. Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington are on the roster, if the club wants to start playing around with different packages and skill sets (a sore knee scratched Bolden from the opener). There's not much time to implement anything new for Week 2 - the Pats host the Jets on Thursday night.
Bottom line, Monday's news is precisely what Ridley owners needed to hear. Come in off the ledge, gamers. Vereen is probably too good to drop in most leagues, even if we don't see him until October. If I had to gamble on one additional New England back past the first two names, I'd pick Blount by default. Hopefully you don't have to reach that deep.
One sidebar to the Vereen news - it underscores how the Patriots (heck, most NFL teams) keep information from us. Vereen broke his wrist over 24 hours ago and obviously the Patriots knew something was up after the game, and the outsiders don't find out until the following day. Keep well in mind, clubs have no incentive to inform us or tell us the truth.
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