Effort from Bolden, Ridley a vote for offensive balance


Effort from Bolden, Ridley a vote for offensive balance

ORCHARD PARK, NY -- New England's 52-28 win over Buffalo features some gaudy numbers.
Just ask the running backs, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley in particular. The pair combined for 243 of the Patriots' 580 total offensive yards.
You're correct to assume it's been a while since multiple backs have had 100 rushing yards in one game. The last time it happened was 1980, when Don Calhoun ran for 106 and Vagas Ferguson for 100 against Baltimore.
The Baltimore Colts.
Bolden's effort Sunday evening must have felt like a sucker punch.
Prior to Week 4, the rookie back had just 15 yards to his name. He exploded against the Bills for 137 and a touchdown.
And while this is a player who had at least five 100 yard games in his junior year at Ole Miss, it's unlikely anyone expected his NFL transition to look so easy so quickly.
Maybe not even Bolden. The 22-year old sounded happily bewildered about why everything worked so well on Sunday afternoon.
"To be honest, I don't know," he smiled. "I don't know if that was the game plan or because it kind of just rolled into it. We had everybody back. We had all the backs there, and we were just going in. Everybody was waiting for their number to be called, everybody was just on standby."
With Shane Vereen's activation this week, New England's stable of backs was full for the first time this season. Not that it mattered early; he, Ridley, and Bolden got just 88 yards of work in the first half. The Patriots went into the break down 14-7.
Consequently, Buffalo expected Tom Brady to air it out.
With New England's back against the wall, the Bills put smaller defensive personnel out on the field to counter an aerial assault. Not only was it a wrong guess, but it couldn't be corrected.
"We played well as an offense," said Ridley. "We got off to a slow start, but it's not about how you start, it's how you finish. For us, coming out with a win is all that matters. We're working hard every day."
Seven Patriots touchdowns, five unanswered, stretched oppressively from the third quarter on out. And the more work the backs got, the better.
New England's first scoring drive since the first quarter was an eight play, 80-yard march that was largely fought and won (63 yards worth) on the ground.
For the record, the Patriots put up just 167 combined rushing yards in its losses to Arizona and Baltimore.
"I guess if you want to call that the fix then, we'll call it the fix," Ridley said of a balanced offense. "But in-and-out of each week things are going to change, schemes are going to change. But when they call our number as running backs we have to go in and make a play and that's what we try to do. Nobody's Super Man, we just work together as a group. When our running backs are out there, whoever it is, we're just working together and supporting each other.
"As a player, we're just playing what's called," he continued. "I put that on the coaches and the coaches did a great job; they put us in a position to win like they do every week. We running backs just expect to come in and play ball."
Count this 52-28 win over Buffalo as a vote cast for balance.
"It's like how we work on the running game all week, then we get out there, we do however good we did. It just feels great," said Bolden. "That's what all that hard work and determination was for."

Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.