The 2013 season began in disappointing fashion for the New England Patriots as they limped to a 23–21 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
After an offseason filled with controversy and huge levels of turnover on offence, the last thing Bill Belichick wanted was to pick up injuries. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what he got.
Slot receiver Danny Amendola, the man charged with replacing Wes Welker as the go-to-guy for Tom Brady, picked up a hamstring injury in the first half against the Bills.
Although Amendola did return to the game in the second half, and made some crucial third-down conversions, he is believed to be doubtful to play against the New York Jets on Thursday evening.
The injury news then got worse for New England. Shane Vereen, who came in to replace Stevan Ridley, who was dropped after a first-half fumble, suffered a broken bone in his wrist and has been placed on the Injured Reserve list by the Patriots, meaning he will not be eligible to return before Week 11 of the regular season.
Vereen had rushed for a career-high 101 yards in the game and also picked up seven receptions for 58 yards as he looked to impress the coaching staff.
The injury to Vereen will be particularly concerning to the Patriots, who had hoped to utilise his versatility in the screen game and therefore add an extra dynamic to their offence.
With Vereen out for 10 weeks, Stevan Ridley will have to step up to the plate and prove that he can consistently and reliable protect the football as he fights for yards and breaks tackles.
Ridley has been a good all-round number one halfback for the Patriots and although his week-1 performance was poor, fans should not be too quick to jump to conclusions.
Ridley played a big part on the offence in 2012 for New England; he showed great strength and determination as the Patriots looked to develop a more potent run game which in turn takes pressure of Tom Brady and the passing offence.
Belichick is not likely to turn away from Ridley in haste and he will still have a huge role to play as the Patriots try to get their offence on the same page.
Thursday night should prove a good test for the rookies on the team. The atmosphere around Gillette will be electric with the division rival Jets in town, if the likes of Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce or Kenbrell Thompkins can come up with some big plays, then this, coupled with the imminent return of star receiver Rob Gronkowski, should go some way to pleasing the New England fans.
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