Bombers' Ridley recovering well after Junior Rioli hit
Essendon defender Jordan Ridley is progressing better than expected after suffering concussion as a result of the incident that led to Junior Rioli's two-match striking ban.
The Bombers initially thought Ridley would miss "multiple weeks" after he was substituted out of last week's narrow defeat to the Power following the off-the-ball hit.
Rioli was sent directly to the tribunal over the incident and was suspended for two matches on Wednesday night.
Ridley resumed running on Thursday, sparking hope the Bombers' 2020 best-and-fairest winner could return to action soon after he misses Saturday night's clash with Brisbane.
"He's doing a really solid running session, which is a surprise to me, but he's recovered really well," Bombers coach Brad Scott told reporters on Thursday.
"The (concussion) protocols are what they are but that's a huge positive for us that even though he'll be unavailable this week, he looks in really good shape.
"He's progressed much quicker than we thought he would a couple of days ago."
Scott was not concerned about the length of Rioli's two-match ban, which he said doesn't impact Essendon.
But he was bemused by Rioli's tribunal defence team suggesting Ridley had run into the Port Adelaide forward's hand.
"The defence team put up whatever argument is going to be best," Scott said.
"But it's a bit like (former heavyweight boxer) Frank Bruno arguing that he ran into Mike Tyson's fist - it doesn't make a lot of sense."
Ridley's absence is a huge blow to Essendon's key defensive stocks, with Jayden Laverde (shoulder), James Stewart (foot) and Zach Reid (hamstring) also unavailable.
Scott said he will have to restructure his undersized line-up in an attempt to blunt Brisbane tall forwards Eric Hipwood and Joe Danhier at the Gabba.
Reid, 21, had been close to an AFL recall before sustaining a hamstring injury in the VFL last week.
It will sideline the promising 205cm prospect for six weeks.
"We're bitterly disappointed with his hamstring injury but he's never had a hamstring before," Scott said.
"It's something that's new and it's frustrating to all of us but no one's more frustrated than Zach himself.
"But in the context of his entire career, this will just be a very small blip on the radar."
In better news last year's best-and-fairest winner and leading goal-kicker Peter Wright is progressing well after shoulder surgery as he eyes a return in the second half of the season.
"I've seen a lot of really professional players over the journey and he's right up there with the best of them," Scott said.
"He's been fantastic in rehab and he's ahead of schedule.
"That doesn't mean that we'll bring him back ahead of schedule but he's pushing really hard and progressing really well."