Kirwan's take on Patriots

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
10:00
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When Pat Kirwan writes on the Patriots, and analyzes what is ahead for the team, it's always something to take note of from this viewpoint.

There are two pieces from Kirwan that caught the eye in recent weeks, the first of which slipped through the cracks around the Fourth of July -- it's his camp preview for the team.

Kirwan breaks things down into the following categories:

1. Key changes
2. Position battles
3. New schemes
4. Bubble watch
5. Unheard-of-guy to watch
6. Biggest concerns
7. Something to prove

In the "new schemes" section, Kirwan opines that a return to the 3-4 could be coming. He also pinpoints Bills receiver Donald Jones as his "unheard-of-guy to watch", although the feeling from here is that rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins might be a better choice at this time.

The second piece is Kirwan's call for teams to go back to the bellcow running back. Kirwan thinks the Patriots would be wise to go in that 300-plus carry direction with Stevan Ridley.

"Ridley got close in 2012 with 290. But with the issues surrounding the Patriots' receivers, it's the right time to push him over the 300 mark, especially when you consider his 4.4 average and 11 rushing touchdowns last year," he writes.

The Ridley topic has been touched on at various points this offseason, as he logged 45 percent of the offensive snaps last season. Ridley looks primed to match that number this year, assuming good health, as the Patriots' hurry-up rushing attack helped produce some solid results in 2012 and figures to do so again this year.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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