RICHMOND will continue to use youngster Ben Lennon at both ends of the ground, with his slow-burn introduction to AFL football likely to continue in his second season.
In the past the Tigers have had to fast track their new players, with Dustin Martin, Reece Conca, Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin all exposed to regular senior football in their debut seasons.
Apart from Vlastuin, who played 18 games in 2013, all appeared in round one of their first seasons, with Martin and Ellis playing 21 games each and Conca 17.
However improvement in depth across the board at Punt Road now means the Tigers have the flexibility to ease their kids into the elite action, which means last year's first-round draft pick Corey Ellis faces a similar fate to Lennon this season.
Coach Damien Hardwick said Lennon, who had off-season hip surgery, would continue to play at half-back and half-forward depending on team requirements.
"He's probably one of those guys who's capable of playing forward and back, depending on where we see a need at this stage – whether it's back or forward, he'll play there," Hardwick told AFL.com.au.
"He's got some things we really like in his game that can help us and make us better."
Lennon, 19, ramped up his training after Christmas following his hip operation and is expected to play late in the NAB Challenge series.
He was held back at times last year after debuting in round nine, and started as substitute in five of his seven senior appearances.
Hardwick said the pre-season games would give him the opportunity to push for a spot in the round-one team.
"He was an important player for us last year; he's incredibly talented and we've just got to make sure we transfer that to on-field," he said.
"He's a player we think has got a big future in the game. He's just got to continue to work hard and he'll get his opportunity come NAB Challenge.
"Hopefully there's a position there for him come round one.
"He's a great kick, he's a beautiful mark, he's working very hard on some facets of his game he knows he has to improve and if he continues to do that, he'll certainly put his hand up to solidify a position in the side."
Ellis, the highly touted inside midfielder who was snapped up by the Tigers at pick No.12 overall in last year's NAB AFL Draft, has also endured a hampered pre-season.
The 18-year-old had foot surgery after arriving at the club and has been on a modified program since.
Hardwick said it was a positive that the Tigers were now in a position where their young talent could be eased into senior football, and he expected that trend to continue this season.
"As your side gets better, you're probably less reliant on those guys to come in and play straight away, which is probably the way it should be," he said.
"We throw Dustin in, Conca, Brandon Ellis, all these guys straight away and it's a pretty tough initiation as an 18-year-old, playing in front of 80,000 round one versus Carlton.
"Much like Corey Ellis this year, there's no need to rush him into the side.
"He's going to be a good player for us but the situation now is we don't give away jumpers, you've got to earn that jumper.
"He's got to show us he can live by our values, but more importantly, play the game the way we want it to be played, and Ben's the same."