The New England Patriots received quite a scare Sunday when they squeaked out a win in the last seconds of the game against the Buffalo Bills. The sloppy offensive performance by the Patriots did not bode well for starting running back Steven Ridley, who lost a fumble in the first half that was returned for a 74 yard touchdown. The turnover resulted in Ridley being benched for the rest of the game.
While the benching of Ridley for a costly turnover is a common move for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the impressive play by third year running back Shane Vereen doesn’t look good for Ridley and fantasy owners who used a top round draft pick on him.
Vereen rushed 14 times for 101 yards and hauled in 7 receptions for 58 yards. He also rushed for an average of 7.2 yards per carry and four first downs in the win. With Ridley struggling to hold onto the football, Vereen has earned himself more touches in the future with his strong performance. His ability to make plays in the passing game will also benefit him immensely, as Ridley recorded just 6 receptions for 51 yards all of last season.
Expect Ridley to get the start week 2 against the New York Jets, as he’s still the better running back option for the patriots. However, it should not come as a surprise when Vereen and Ridley get an equal amount of touches. If Ridley continues to put the football on the ground against the Jets, expect Vereen to steal the starting running back role in New England.