The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are kicking off their second game to the preseason, and there are two notable starters on the Patriots offense who were both starters for the majority of the 2013 season (though not all of it). Running back Stevan Ridley had a big 2012 season, but issues with fumbles caused him to be benched in favor of LeGarrette Blount. Although Blount is now set to have a significant role behind second-year pro Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, Ridley’s status as the team’s bellcow back is far from set, as they love mid-round sleeper James White, who isn’t exactly a sleeper (he only holds that adjective in draft pedigree).
According to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, both Ridley and Kenbrell Thompkins will run with the starters in today’s game against the Eagles, with Thompkins’s listing being more significant. Ridley will start until he fumbles, because there’s no doubt that he has plenty of talent at the position with his ability to run inside or outside. But if White continues to show up well, then he could even vulture carries from Ridley on first and second downs, as White and Shane Vereen will hog third-down reps.
Thompkins is starting over offseason signing Brandon LaFell, and every single snap at the wide receiver position behind Julian Edelman is critical. There are no locks outside of Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson, who is out with an injury, though I firmly believe the Patriots will keep all of their top wideouts in Edelman, Dobson, Thompkins, LaFell, Danny Amendola, and Josh Boyce. The battle among Boyce, Thompkins, and LaFell for the No. 3 or 4 gig (depending on the usage of Amendola) behind Edelman, Dobson, and Amendola is a heated one, so we’ll see if Thompkins can use the starting designation as a means of gaining ground (or, rather, increasing his apparent lead).