COMMENTARY | While the New England Patriots played the Cincinnati Bengals, starting running back Stevan Ridley watched from the sideline due to a knee injury. The New England offense struggled mightily and failed to score a touchdown in the team's loss. Meanwhile, fantasy owners looked to their bench or to the waiver wire to find a replacement for Ridley.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Ridley is once again attending practice. This is certainly a good sign for the Patriots, but should he play in the team's game this week against the New Orleans Saints?
This is a big game for the Patriots. While they sit at 4-1, they are far from comfortable in the standings, as the New York Jets are finding ways to win games. Nobody is expecting Geno Smith and the Jets to win the AFC East, but New England can't afford to get complacent as their schedule gets tougher. They'll need to score a lot more than six points to beat the Saints, and Ridley could help them keep pace.
On the other hand, holding him out another week could be for the best. Having Ridley healthy by the end of the season should be a priority for Bill Belichick, and playing him against the Saints this week could jeopardize this. LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden should be capable of carrying the load against New Orleans out of backfield if Ridley takes the week off.
Ridley is the team's most talented option at running back, but Belichick would be wise not to rush him back. The Patriots will need him in the postseason, and it's simply not worth the risk against a New Orleans defense that has been surprisingly good. New England's offensive concern is getting the passing game going, as Blount and Bolden can manage the running game for another week or so.
Sorry, fantasy owners. You might have to wait just a little longer for Stevan Ridley to be a viable option again.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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