New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (top) is pursued by the Houston Texans safety Alan Ball in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Stock Down: Stevan Ridley, Ras-I Dowling

The New England Patriots “Stock Watch” feature takes a look at players whose stocks are rising or falling following some more news regarding performances at training camp.

RB Stevan Ridley

By now, everyone has heard that New England Patriots feature back Stevan Ridley had to run laps following two fumbles yesterday, with the most memorable one being the one that Vince Wilfork scooped up. Ridley has had ball security issues in the past, and it seems like the fumbles come in spurts as he had a clump of fumbles in December last season. I’ve always been among those who have sided with Ridley and stated that the fumbles are not a big issue with a running back as talented as Ridley, but this is a reminder that, unlike BenJarvus Green-Ellis, fumbles will always be an issue with Ridley. Bill Belichick understands that, but he still takes fumbles very seriously and made Ridley think about the importance of ball security by ordering those laps.

CB Ras-I Dowling

Alfonzo Dennard cut some weight and looked solid and Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington were standouts, but Ras-I Dowling did not follow that trend of impressive Patriots cornerbacks with a disappointing day of camp on Sunday. Dowling was the worst cornerback on the field yesterday, as Josh Boyce, who had a great day, beat him with ease. Usually a standout during offseason activities, Dowling will need to shake himself off and pick himself back up today. I’ve been high on Dowling since the day he was drafted and view him as a solid cornerback, but this is obviously a make-or-break year for Dowling. He needs to be healthy and effective, and we all remember hearing of the excellent play he showed during OTAs and minicamp this offseason.

TE Brandon Ford

While veterans Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui and fellow UDFA Zach Sudfeld looked good yesterday, “move” tight end Brandon Ford did not look so good. NESN’s Doug Kyed writes that Brandon Ford “has had some bad drops” thus far in camp, and Ford has been viewed as a very deep sleeper by some. Sudfeld has a roster spot penciled in, but I view Ford as a UDFA who has to fight for a gig on the practice squad.

RB LeGarrette Blount

Although I am a staunch supporter of Blount’s and made room for him on my 53-man roster projection in order to keep five running backs, I do view the former 1,000-yard rusher as the No. 5 back behind Brandon Bolden. Even though he made good on both of his goal-line carries, there’s no need to bring in Blount as a goal-line back. His agility and explosiveness make him more of a home-run back, and the common misconception is that he is a bruising back (you can’t generate a scouting report simply by looking at somebody’s frame). Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley are both better goal-line backs, and Blount earns his keep on making big plays on the ground. MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill came away “unimpressed” with Blount yesterday, and Doug Kyed wrote that Bolden looks “much better” than Blount. Bolden is the favorite to make the roster over Blount if the Pats keep four running backs, and Blount will need to step things up if he wants to carve out a roster spot.

WR Lavelle Hawkins

Nick Underhill wrote that Lavelle Hawkins “struggled with drops” yesterday, and that doesn’t bode well for the former Tennessee Titans wideout. Hawkins is already on the outside looking in on the roster bubble, and struggling with drops is only going to push him further back. The main reason why Hawkins’s stop has dropped, though, is because of the play of undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, who was a clear standout yesterday and also looked great on Saturday. I have Thompkins as the man nabbing a roster spot ahead of Kamar Aiken, Michael Jenkins, and Hawkins. Doug Kyed wrote that the group fighting for the last receiver spot looks to be Jenkins (the veteran and standout at OTAs and minicamp who also had bad drops yesterday), Thompkins, and Aiken (looked good yesterday and had good showings at OTAs and minicamp). Right now, it looks like Hawkins is due to be cut.



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Tags: Brandon Ford Lavelle Hawkins LeGarrette Blount New England Patriots NFL Offseason Ras-I Dowling Stevan Ridley

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