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Bolden, Blount in line for more carries

12/1/2013

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was announced as inactive for Sunday's game, coming on the heels of three games in which he has fumbled. Earlier Sunday morning, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots likely would have used Ridley in a reduced role if he were active, though roster considerations made it necessary to keep Ridley off the field altogether.

In addition to Ridley, the Patriots announced that defensive end Jake Bequette and linebacker Steve Beauharnais will not play Sunday. The team had previously ruled out wide receiver Aaron Dobson, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon.

The full list of the Patriots' and Texans' inactives is below:

Patriots

LB Steve Beauharnais

DE Jake Bequette

OT Marcus Cannon

CB Alfonzo Dennard

WR Aaron Dobson

TE Michael Hoomanawanui

RB Stevan Ridley

Texans

OT Andrew Gardner

DE Tim Jamison

OG Alex Kupper

DE Ricky Sapp

DB Jawanza Starling

OG Cody White

QB T.J. Yates

Analysis: The big news here is the decision to sit Ridley, the team's best between-the-tackles runner who leads the Patriots in carries, rushing yards and touchdowns. Ultimately, the string of fumbles apparently was too disconcerting for the Patriots' coaching staff, who may hope that a week away can help Ridley recalibrate as the season's home stretch approaches. There are some who believe fumbling is just as much a mental issue as a physical one, and perhaps time off will be what Ridley needs. With Ridley out, the Patriots look likely to lean on Shane Vereen as their up-tempo back, but then it becomes less clear between Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. Blount has been further up the depth chart for much of the season, but he too fumbled last week, leading to Bolden serving as a primary ball carrier. Given that each is active, it would come as no surprise to see both earn touches as the between-the-tackles runner when the Patriots turn to more of their two-back or two-tight-end sets. A final note is that safety Steve Gregory, who missed a pair of games due to a broken thumb, returns to the lineup.