Blues impress, but AFL loss has them edgy

Brendon Bolton is rapt that near enough is no longer good enough at Carlton.

The coach was pleased with how his players reacted after Thursday night's 26-point loss to premiers Richmond in the AFL season opener.

While there was a lot to like about the emerging Blues, they did not like the fact that they were unable to capitalise on a strong start.

"Our group is pretty edgy - they're holding themselves to high account," Bolton said.

"That's a step in maturity.

"They were a bit edgy with each other tonight, which is good.

"There's no doubt about the effort, but we're here to win games."

Likewise, Bolton said injuries were no excuse.

After Carlton stunned Richmond with a five-goal opening, the Tigers quickly had the game back on a level footing and only trailed by nine points at quarter time.

The Blues then lost Matthew Kennedy (ankle), while star ruckman Matthew Kreuzer spent most of the third term off the ground with groin trouble.

Kreuzer returned for the last quarter, but clearly was sore.

The injuries to Kennedy and Kreuzer shredded Carlton's rotations, especially in the third term.

"Our players need to learn to fight through that ... we won't make excuses," he said.

But Bolton conceded Kennedy was a significant loss to their midfield.

The Blues coach does not think Kreuzer's injury is long-term, but the ruckman will undergo tests.

Midfielder Patrick Cripps had 25 contested possessions in a best-afield performance and key forward Charlie Curnow kicked five goals.

Bolton lauded Cripps as a bull in and around congested play, while Curnow clearly is a star in the making.

"He's a fantastic player ... we know we have a special talent, we're rapt to have him," Bolton said of Curnow.

"Most importantly though, he understands and we understand there's huge growth still."

As defender Sam Docherty recovers from his knee reconstruction, Carlton have put him on the interchange bench to act as an extension of the coaching staff.

The unusual assignment has AFL approval.

"It helps, no doubt ... he understands footy," Bolton said of Docherty.

"He reminds me in funny ways of a young Sam Mitchell - just thinking about the game so much."

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