OK, there are two important messages that we need to deliver at the top:
1) Preseason games are almost entirely meaningless, except to individual players attempting to earn jobs. The earliest preseason games, like those that took place on Thursday night, are especially meaningless. Vanilla defense, vanilla offense, first-teamers smiling on the sidelines. We cannot get the full measure of an NFL player simply by watching him perform against lower-tier competition in a game where the outcome is irrelevant.
And then there's this...
2) New England rookie running back Stevan Ridley was really, really good on Thursday, in a game that didn't matter, facing a bad defense in an exhibition environment.
This guy's presence on the Patriots' depth chart was already one of my reasons to avoid BenJarvus Green-Ellis in fantasy drafts. After Ridley gained 111 yards on 23 touches against Jacksonville, catching seven passes and crossing the goal line three times, I'm no less worried about BJGE.
At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, the LSU rookie definitely looks the part of a short-yardage specialist, a guy who can poach a few touchdowns. He flashed a few other skills on Thursday night, too. (Again: It's not like he was facing the Jets in January in a 12-10 game. We get it. Shut up). Ridley's first two scores were 1-yarders ? here's the first and here's the second. Neither was a walk-in TD. Those were competitive runs that could have been stopped, but Ridley drove through contact.
"I thought he ran hard," said Bill Belichick, taking a position that no one could dispute. (Belichick also said "No, we didn't rest anybody" after a game in which he basically rested everybody).
"I'm just doing what the coaches ask me to do," said Ridley. "They want me to be a downhill runner, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
So he did. Here's a clip of Ridley's third score, just to complete the video three-pack. There was a low degree-of-difficulty on that play, a 16-yard reception via Ryan Mallett. All you'll really learn from the highlight is that Ridley's hands are functioning properly, and he can run a straight line. Nice attributes, sure, but not unique to the rookie.
Just file away the name. The Pats drafted this kid in the third-round, and we know the New England backfield is like a rushing commune, with fantasy stats available to multiple players.
Photo via US Presswire