Every year, the USA Today releases their “All-Joe” Team, which is a list comprised of players that the paper views as being the most deserving among players who have never been named to the Pro Bowl. They always make sure to have one representative from each team In this year’s edition, the New England Patriots managed to send in two players in workhorse center Ryan Wendell and workhorse running back Stevan Ridley. It’s not often a huge team like the Patriots is able to send in two guys, but Wendell and Ridley are definitely two deserving players.
Ridley was easily one of the top ten running backs in the NFL this past season, and he has etched himself on the list of feature backs in this league after just his first season as a starter. Although he offers up little as a pass blocker and nothing as a receiver, Ridley beats you where it really counts as a rusher. Ridley is an extremely versatile rusher, because he can beat you with power on the inside and can also burn you on the outside with some explosive play. Fumbles used to be an issue, but Ridley only fumbled twice and this season and bounced back in the games following each of those miscues. Under a dirt cheap rookie deal and with plenty of upside, Ridley will continue to be a fixture in the New England backfield.
Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson were named to the team as well, so Ridley kept it from being an all-rookie backfield. All three are just first-year starters, and I will say that I don’t view Richardson as a deserving candidate.
Ryan Wendell made the roster at center, and he is another first-year starter on the list. Wendell entrenched himself as the next great leader and player at the center position, as he filled in seamlessly for Dan Koppen- and then some. An excellent run blocker and solid pass protector, Wendell played more snaps than anyone this past season and is easily one of the league’s most underrated players. However, Wendell is starting to get more recognition, and a listing on the “All-Joe Team” is yet another minor accolade that Wendell can add to his list.
There were some questionable selections, but Ridley and Wendell were not among them; they fully deserved to be on the list.
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